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The Potential Impacts of Co-Produced Geothermal Waters

Will Gosnold, Hossein Salehfar, Zhengwen Zeng, and Mike Mann
School of Engineering and Mines, U. North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND

Electrical Previous HitpowerNext Hit generation from co-produced oil field geothermal waters is technically and economically feasible with installation of binary Previous HitpowerNext Hit plants in unitized fields and individual wells producing sufficient volumes of water. The application of organic Rankine cycle (ORC) technology in binary Previous HitpowerNext Hit plants allows use of temperatures as low as 90 C for Previous HitpowerNext Hit production. Use of existing infrastructure eliminates drilling and well completion costs, thereby reducing much of the upfront cost of geothermal electrical Previous HitpowerNext Hit production. We envision at least two significant impacts of pursuing development of this low-to-intermediate temperature (LTIT) geothermal resource for electrical Previous HitpowerNext Hit production. The first impact addresses the question of how much total electrical Previous HitpowerNext Hit could be generated and how much of the nation’s electrical Previous HitpowerNext Hit needs could be met. Recent estimates of the energy in currently co-produced geothermal waters in 31 oil and gas producing states range from 4,591 MW at 100 C to 21,933 at 180 C. These estimates constitute approximately 1.3 to 6.8 percent of the electric Previous HitpowerNext Hit consumption in the 31 states in 2004. However, the potential energy resource contained in LTIT waters in sedimentary basis is estimated to be thousands of GW. Therefore, development of only a fraction of the LTIT resource using abandoned or capped wells in oil and gas fields could establish an extensive geothermal Previous HitpowerNext Hit infrastructure and provide a sustainable and secure domestic energy resource. The second impact would be a significant reduction in CO2 emissions from electrical Previous HitpowerNext Hit generation. Approximately half of global anthropogenic CO2 derives from coal-fired Previous HitpowerNext Hit plants. Large-scale development of binary Previous HitpowerTop plants using LTIT geothermal resources has the potential to make a significant reduction in anthropogenic greenhouse gas production.


AAPG Search and Discover Article #90078©2008 AAPG Annual Convention, San Antonio, Texas