How Geothermal and Oil & Gas
Complement Each Other
June 18 Webinar Panel Q&A Responses
Q: Maurice, Could you share a little your experience and knowledge on fluid rock interactions in high thermal systems particularly in carbonates. Is scaling around the borehole a major issue?
A (Maurice): Scaling can be a problem. What will determine this is the changes in temperature and pressure of the system. It is well known that drops in PT does have an affect on scaling. Also, what happens to the water chemistry over time. If we are circulating water in a closed loop system, this will change slowly over time due to slow reactions with the rocks. If we don’t have a closed loop system then we need to look at water compatibalities, when the water mix, what happens.
Q: So what are the main limitations/barriers for Geothermal to develop rapidly in Alberta?
A (Cathie): Hopefully we have answered this question - it is more education and understanding of geothermal and how it can work in synergy with oil and gas.
Q: For projects such as Alberta No 1, is there enough data available to immediately proceed to full size well bore and production? Or instead is there a need to test or prove the reservoir/resource for temperature and flow rate requirements?
A (Cathie): For the [Alberta No. 1 project], we will have to do some additional investigations because there are few deep wells in the area. In other areas, you could drill geothermal well bores from the get-go.
Q: Does the Canadian government regulations make it easy or difficult to drill geothermal wells?
A (Cathie): The regulations are specific to the province or territory; only BC have regulations specific to geothermal.
Q: from a policy perspective, what can the GoA do to increase the quantity and scale of geothermal development in AB? Direct investment? Data support?
A (Cathie): I've heard that BC has a Geothermal Resources Act, that defines project permitting (etc.) requirements, that AB lacks. Is it important for AB to have similar legislation? [What would also be useful is] helping industry in the early phases prove that there is a resource and the economics work. The lack of a regulatory framework has not been a problem; the projects have been working one-to-one with government.
Q: Should the provincial or federal government be leading to accelerate development?
A (Katie): Both federal and provincial support are necessary. Several geothermal projects have received federal funding (especially the NRCan ERPP funding) but provincial support is also key as the industry varies between provinces.
Q: What are some of the primary geochemical considerations related to geothermal exploration and production?
A (Cathie): The presence of carbonates and other chemicals that can contribute to scaling in the well bore and pipes.
Q: The DOE has created a Geothermal Prize to promote brainstorming of development ideas for extreme HP/HT geothermal drilling and to hopefully promote start-up geothermal companies. Is the Canadian government promoting development as well as start-up growth to the same degree?
A (Cathie): The Federal government doesn't have a prize, but through the Emerging Renewable Power Program has funded Alberta No. 1 for $25.4 Million.
Q: Are there any other examples globally of geothermal development in a sedimentary basin similar to Alberta’s?
A (Cathie): Yes, look at what is being done in Germany and France.
Q: Cathie or Katie, what would be the difference in output between a deep, high volume approach and the shallower closed-loop systems being developed in Alberta?
A (Cathie): The amount of net energy that is produced.
Q: What are the most economical applications for direct-use heat historically? What are the potentially economical applications in AB/Canada?
A (Katie): In my opinion, the most viable applications to start would be to use direct heat to replace technologies that currently use fossil fuels to create heat. In Alberta, geothermal heat could be used for grain drying, fish farming, to name a few.
Q: As Well Construction is such a huge part for the life of a well, which Regulator(s) do you look to for reference (Norsok, CNLOPB, AER, BSEE, others...)? Also, who will be regulating GT wells in AB and SK? Martin may have eluded to the AER checking in on GT Drilling in Alberta, but wasn’t clear.
A (Cathie): The projects are opperating under existing oil and gas (and water regulations).
Q: How receptive has the investment community been to investing in geothermal power generation in Alberta thus far (Covid-19 aside)?
A (Cathie): From the Alberta No. 1 perspective: cautious enthusiasm.