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Title: Electric Power Generation from Low to Intermediate Temperature Resources

This project was designed to test the concept on the Eland-Lodgepole Field near Dickinson, North Dakota in the Williston Basin. The field is in secondary-recovery water-flood and consists of 12 producing oil wells, 5 water injection wells and one disposal well. Water production at the site averages approximately 320 gallons per minute (20.2 l s-1) and the temperature is 100 ⁰C. Engineers at Ormat estimated power production potential with the existing resource to be approximately 350 kWh. Unfortunately, ownership of the field was transferred from Encore, Inc., to Denbury, Inc., within the first week of the project. After two years of discussion and planning, Denbury decided not to pursue this project due to complications with the site location and its proximity to Patterson Lake. Attempts to find other partners operating in the Williston Basin were unsuccessful. Consequently, we were unable to pursue the primary objective of the project. However, during negations with Denbury and subsequent time spent contacting other potential partners, we focused on objectives 2 and 3 and developed a clear understanding of the potential for co-produced production in the Williston Basin and the best practices for developing similar projects. At least nine water bearing formations with temperatures greatermore » than 90 ⁰C extend over areas of several 10s of km2. The total energy contained in the rock volume of those geothermal aquifers is 283.6 EJ (1 EJ = 1018 J). The total energy contained in the water volume, determined from porosities which range from 2 percent to 8 percent, is 6.8 EJ. The aquifers grouped by 10 ⁰C temperature bins (Table 1) include one or more formations due to the bowl-shape structure of the basin. Table 1. Summary of energy available in geothermal aquifers in the Williston Basin Analysis of overall fluid production from active wells, units, fields and formations in North Dakota showed that few sites co-produce sufficient fluid for significant power production with ORC technology. Average co-produced water for 10,480 wells is 3.2 gallons per minute (gpm). Even excluding the tight formations, Bakken and Three Forks, average co-produced water for the remaining 3,337 is only 5 gpm. The output of the highest producing well is 184 gpm and the average of the top 100 wells is 52 gpm. Due to the depth of the oil producing formations in the Williston Basin, typically 3 km or greater, pumps are operated slowly to prevent watering out thus total fluid production is purposefully maintained at low volumes. There remain potential possibilities for development of geothermal fluids in the Williston Basin. Unitized fields in which water production from several tens of wells is collected at a single site are good possibilities for development. Water production in the unitized fields is greater than 1000 gpm is several areas. A similar possibility occurs where infill-drilling between Bakken and Three Forks horizontal wells has created areas where large volumes of geothermal fluids are available on multi-well pads and in unitized fields. Although the Bakken produces small amounts of water, the water/oil ration is typically less than 1, the oil and water mix produced at the well head can be sent through the heat exchanger on an ORC. It is estimated that several tens of MWh of power could be generated by a distributed system of ORC engines in the areas of high-density drilling in the Bakken Formation. Finally, horizontal drilling in water bearing formations is the other possibility. Several secondary recovery water-flood projects in the basin are producing water above 100 ⁰C at rates of 300 gpm to 850 gpm. Those systems also could produce several tens of MWh of power with ORC technology. Objective 3 of the project was highly successful. The program has produced 5 PhDs, 7 MS, and 3 BS students with theses in geothermal energy. The team has involved 7 faculty in 4 different engineering and science disciplines, ChE, EE, GE, and Geol. The team has produced 26 peer-reviewed papers and 62 presentations at professional meetings. Faculty involved in the program developed five graduate level courses covering different elements in heat flow and geothermal energy that are now offered in the Harold Hamm School of Geology and Geological Engineering. Lessons learned – Keys to developing a successful project;1. Determine target formations; a. Data from oil and gas operators, state oil and gas regulatory agencies, and state geological surveys help to identify producing formations and their properties; 2. Determine the quantity of energy available in the target formations; a. A complete thermal analysis of the basin or region yields the most useful information; b. Critical data include: BHT, heat flow, stratigraphy, lithology, lithological properties, and thermal conductivity, subsurface structure; 3. Determine fluid production potential; a. State oil and gas regulatory agencies, and state geological surveys have data on oil, gas and water production. State Water Commission/Agencies have data on water quality, aquifers, and regulations; b. Consider single horizontal wells, multiple conventional wells, and unitized fields; 4. Calculate energy production capacity of each formation based on different well combination and power plant scenarios. This is a broad overview rather than a site specific analysis; 5. Research and understand the local electrical power industry. Obtain the PPA before committing to the project; 6. Work with the high-level personnel in the oil company partner. Obtain an MOU that addresses all issues in the project including what to expect if the company goes out of business, is bought out, changes management, etc; and 7. Be prepared for project delays.« less
  1. Univ. of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Final Report DOE EE00271--1
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Geothermal Technologies Office (EE-4G)
Country of Publication:
United States
15 GEOTHERMAL ENERGY co-produced, oil and gas, low temperature, geothermal