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Well of the Week - Hot on the trail

The last time the Petro Ninja – Enlighten Geoscience Well of the Week considered the importance of geothermics was back in 2018 with Some Like It Hot.  The focus at that time was on the effect subtle variations in geothermal gradient (GTG) had on the viscosity of shallow heavy oil production. At the time, the development of geothermal energy as a stable baseload source of electricity and heat was just getting started in western Canada. It is an understatement to say that a lot has changed in 6 years. So, it seems like a good time for a series on the activity of the various geothermal initiatives around the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin.

As is often the case with understanding the subsurface, although the concept is simple, chasing down geothermal success is harder than one might initially think. There are several ways to approach this problem and, as with the story about Goldilocks and the Three Bears, one needs to find a method of accessing temperatures that are “just right.”  We can illustrate this challenge by looking at the Enlighten Geothermal Database.

Perhaps you want the highest temperature in all of AB or BC. If that is the case, then 202/d-064-K/094-N-16/00 with a run depth temperature of 175 deg C is the well to follow-up on.  But as the map in Figure 1 illustrates, the Beaver field is a bit removed from markets.


Figure 1. Locations of cited geothermal data wells.

If you want to chase the highest GTG, that would be 100/07-01-061-06W4/00 with a GTG of 73.6 oC/km.  That might be of interest to the good people of nearby Bonnyville. But that test was at a run depth of 313 m, much too shallow for effective production.

Maybe the highest GTG from tests that are deeper than 1,000m are of interest.  That will draw you to 100/13-08-121-11W6/00.  But wait up. No matter how alluring, with a GTG of 64.1 oC/km and a run depth temperature of 104 deg C, this well is, as with d-064-K, very isolated.

Or you can decide to focus on the sweet spot of depth combined with GTG and poke around 100/04-35-012-28W4/00 with 56.7 oC/km with a run depth temperature of 145 deg C.

Obviously, developing geothermal energy is going to be a complex nut to crack.  At the end of this story, we might get a clearer picture of which of these geothermal bears has managed to get their bowl of porridge just right. 


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