Welltec asserts geothermal credentials with prestigious US initiative

Source: press release, 22 October 2020

Innovative technology: Advanced completions and interventions solutions (photo: Welltec)
Innovative technology: Advanced completions and interventions solutions (photo: Welltec)

Welltec® has been awarded a crucial role in an important project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and led by the University of Oklahoma, to illustrate that near-field Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) can be successfully deployed.

Welltec will be utilising its extensive expertise from Completions and Interventions in the oil and gas sector to demonstrate that low permeability or unproductive Geothermal wells can also be turned into highly productive assets using EGS techniques. This will be achieved via the application of Welltec Annular Barrier (WAB®) technology.

The collaboration will see Welltec’s direct involvement in the Wells of Opportunity (WOO) project at the Coso Geothermal Field, further supporting FORGE objectives (Frontier Observation for Research in Geothermal Energy) to enable cutting-edge research, drilling, and technology testing to identify a replicable commercial pathway to EGS.

“This is the second DOE project where a WAB has been selected as the preferred method for geothermal zonal isolation,” says Ricardo Vasques, VP Engineering, Welltec. “These awards will position the WAB as a ground-breaking technology for open-hole zonal isolation in geothermal environments and will ensure participation in additional DOE-funded projects,” Vasques adds.

He went on to explain, “The all-metal WAB is being developed for the ongoing DOE-Welltec project where it will be applied as an integral part of the enhanced zonal isolation system for the EGS application in manmade reservoirs. The WABs will be deployed as part of the lower completion and will enable a precisely controlled hydro-thermo-chemical effective stimulation to enhance productivity from geothermal wells.”

Advanced technology to overcome geothermal challenges
In one of three projects totalling up to USD 10.4 million USD, the introduction of WAB technology will enable the controlled manipulation of hydraulic pressure, thermal stress, and geochemical dissolution, with the stimulated volume monitored via micro-seismic, tracer, and production data.

With FORGE having previously shown these considerations to be incredibly challenging, this will be a major step in well completions technology development and stimulation design, aided by utilising advanced modelling to account for thermal stress factors, chemistry and fluid pressure.

According to the DOE, the research and development conducted through these selections will improve the tools, technologies, and methodologies used to explore, identify, access, create, and manage EGS resources, which are also critical to reducing development costs and risks.

Coso Geothermal Field
The Coso Geothermal Field is located in the eastern portion of central California where Welltec will also collaborate with the Coso Operating Company and Geologica – it is expected that activities will run at least until 2022.