Science & Technology in Action

14th Edition

Oil and Horticulture Partnership

Vermillion

In Parentis-en-Born (France) a tomato growing company produces 7,500 tonnes of vine tomatoes per annum. The greenhouses are indirectly heated by hot water from the nearby Vermilion oil/gas facility. Without this heat source the greenhouses would have to be heated by combustion of oil or gas which would add to the cost of production. The whole operation supports 250 local jobs.
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Lesson excerpt

An unlikely partnership

At first sight a partnership between an international energy producer and a horticultural enterprise may seem unlikely. Following research and investigation in the mid 2000s involving Vermilion Energy and a group of agricultural engineers in Parentis-en-Born (South of Bordeaux, France) it was decided to establish a tomato growing company (Tom d’Aqui) next to the Vermilion site on the shores of Lake Biscarrosse and Parentis. The partnership was formally established in 2008. (In 1997 Vermilion had taken over an oil and gas producing facility at Parentis which had begun around 1950. The area is part of the Aquitaine Basin which contains most of France’s onshore oil/gas reserves.)

The use of ‘waste’ heat in glasshouses

In large greenhouses, covering ten hectares, Tom d’Aqui produces 7,500 tonnes of vine tomatoes per annum. The greenhouses are indirectly heated by hot water from the oil/gas facility. Without this heat source the greenhouses would have to be heated by combustion of oil or gas which would add to the cost of production. The whole operation supports 250 local jobs.

How it works

What is extracted from the Parentis field is a mixture of oil, gas and water. The mixture emerges from the ground at 60°C due to geothermal heating. The oil and gas are separated. The hot water goes through a heat exchanger before being pumped back into the ground. This is done to maintain the pressure in the oil reserve and to facilitate further extraction.

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True or False?

  1. Tom d’Aqui produces 7,500 kg of vine tomatoes / annum. false
  2. A heat exchanger is used to transfer heat from a hot medium to a cold one without mixing them. true
  3. Insects that are exposed to long-term use of synthetic pesticides never develop resistance to them. false
  4. Few insects eat the leaves of tomato plants. false
  5. Many types of bacteria are beneficial to plants and they inhibit pathogenic organisms. true
  6. During the Industrial Revolution there was little regard for air quality or for the environment. true
  7. In order to live more sustainably we need to move to a circular economy in which there is minimal waste. true
  8. Ladybirds are natural predators of many pest species. true
  9. Tomatoes that have been treated with synthetic pesticides can be sold as organic. false