Estevan – After nearly a decade of work on developing the concept of geothermal electricity, Deep Earth Earth's (DEEP) electricity production in Saskatchewan finally finds its first hole south of Torquay at the US border. A successful project will establish the first geothermal plant in Canada.
On November 8, the company, led by CEO Kirsten Marcia, drove the conductor and the ditch, waiting for a full drill the next week. By November 13, the drilling rig was moved and the fountain was spudded on November 14.
This hole will be a significant one, aiming to be the deepest of Saskatchewan. It will overtake the two Aquistore wells 100 meters to a total depth of approximately 3,500 meters.
Marcia spoke to Pipeline News on November 9th.
Deep was formed in 2010. She had "wonderful spurts," she remarked, where she would move a huge distance, then be slowed down by funding. But in recent weeks, they have received $ 4 million in new equity funding, which allowed the company to start drilling. They hired a drilling plant that worked nearby but will have an opportunity window.
The fountain is expected to last 25 days to drill, far more than a typical well in that area. This is partly due to the fact that it intends to cut 200 meters from the base at the very bottom of it, including cutting the core into the PreCambrian basement, which forms the basis of sedimentary beds.
"We hope to catch a core in the basement," she said. Their goal is to reach up to 20 meters in the basement, as they will provide the required depth for the recording tools that follow to scan the entire sedimentary column.
While Marcia, herself, is a geologist on the bottom, DEEP hired John Lake, a prominent Saskatchewan geologist who once made the Pipeline News coverage, to sit on this well.
This hole will be the first of six, opening the way for three production wells and two injection wells. Holes should be placed 300 to 500 meters away.
This initial well will be somewhat smaller in diameter, at 7 inches, even at the bottom. Subsequent production wells will be 9-5 / 8 inches across.
This deals with submersible electric firefighting (ESP), which will move a huge amount of water, pulling it from the Winnipeg and Deadwood formations that make up the last 200 meters of the hole. Icebox formation, which overlaps Winnipeg training, acts as a caprock, as happens in the Aquistore project, about 29 miles east.
Aquistore injects carbon dioxide from the Boundary 3 carbon capture and storage project in a deep saline aquifer at 3,400 meters deep and two kilometers west of the plant. SaskPower, which has already contributed $ 1 million to the DEEP project, shared data with DEEP that it obtained from Aquistore.
Marcia noted that in this case the ice acts as thermal insulation for their purposes.
This is a good preliminary test of the resource needed to refine the assumptions, she explained.
Marcia said that this hole is "about a mile" from a similar depth spring similar to Canadian Natural Resources Limited in the 1980s. This was well recorded at a temperature of 95 ° C but three days later recorded 126 ° C.
And that's why the area is so attractive and why it forces so deep. Marcia mentioned that this is not a volcanic geothermal project, but a sedimentary basin. "The deeper you go, the harder it gets," she said, as the heat comes from the center of the earth.
"This is thermal exploitation. Heat is the resource. Water is the means to move resources."
The plan is to drill this first well and then to finish three weeks later to find the real temperature. They will flow the well for seven days, using to model the complete production probes. They will also try Mannville's injectability for future injection wells.
By the end of March, testing is expected to have been fully reviewed. "If the first spring provides enough data to convince a creditor for production wells, we go for it," Marcia said.
Then, after the spring break in 2019, the plan is to continue with the production and injection wells, forcing them to be "doubles".
Injection wells, however, would not go to the same depth as the production wells, but rather to the much less superficial Mannville formation, which is commonly used for escape fountains in the region. This original well can also be used as an injection well. This may be necessary to maintain pressure in the tank.
Each production well will use an ESP that attracts a megawatt of about 1,340 horsepower. The total power output of this project is expected to be 10 megawatts, but after considering the power consumption of pumps and the installation installation, net power production will be five megawatts. He will be linked to a station at Bromhead.
The long-term project is the power plant.
Installation above the ground uses the Rankine organic cycle. Using a low-boiling working fluid, hot water extracted from the production wells transfers the heat through a heat exchanger, causing the working fluid to light in a gas (ie boil) and drive the turbine. A cooling tower cools the working fluid back into the liquid phase for reuse. The water is then pumped into the injection wells.
This system is almost identical in terms of concept and scale to what is already being done at the Alliance pipeline compressors that pass through Saskatchewan. These heat recovery plants were installed at Kerrobert, Loreburn, Estlin and Alameda in 2008, each producing a net power of five megawatts.
Indeed, the reality that DEEP's geothermal concept uses well-established and already existing technologies – drilling and injection wells using the heat to operate a Rankine Electric Cycle Plant – have made it somewhat problematic to raise funds, according to Marcia . There was nothing new in itself. But it was a new application of this technology in a sedimentary basin and, in particular, the Williston basin, which makes it unique
The project may double in size, she noted, but at some point it would be more logical to replicate the project as opposed to adding it. It is scalable and repeatable.
The system will cool the water from 120 ° C to about 65 ° C, but that means there is a lot of heat usable in it. While its purpose is to produce electricity, not cucumbers, it feels that there may be opportunities for the use of waste heat for greenhouses or other applications
Everyone said that if things went well in two and a half years, Marcia said they could have power in the grid that can be renewed, and the core power will be about 95% of the time. She called it "the most attractive of all renewable sources" and said it can offset coal.
Marcia noted that they are using data, technologies and petroleum processes to establish renewable resources, and that without this industry no one even knows that there is a geothermal resource.