How realistic are the hopes of oil workers in the geothermal opportunity?

Oil and natural gas exploration -- geology and geophysics
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Newsman
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How realistic are the hopes of oil workers in the geothermal opportunity?

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A lot has been written about the possibility that the oil crash could create an unprecedented boom for the geothermal sector in recent weeks. Something not completely new, similar discussions were popping up during the financial crisis of 2008/ 2009.

Naturally the point of view from the geothermal side is quite different than that from the side of the oil sector, that so desperately needs to find jobs for the many unemployed oil workers.

In an opinion piece published in the Houston Chronicle, two former executives share their view on how they think that “drilling for geothermal [could be the] green new deal for both sides of the aisle”.

Describing the dire unemployment numbers of the oil sector, they see geothermal as a unique and compelling energy proposition for America. Drilling for geothermal resources, so the authors Vikaram Rao and Lance Cook, could provide work for an “army of drilling crews, skilled service workers, exploration and production expertise and the like.” “Free for new opportunities”, they see the work force ready to jump into geothermal drilling in the U.S.

If though the geothermal sector provides the “low hanging fruit” opportunity as described is more than questionable. As a commodity business the oil sector simply works differently, particularly as it comes to investment into “longer-term returns” provided by an industry selling electricity by the hour.

The story simply is more complex as not only would it require support by the government to invest into geothermal energy development, while at the same time either replace current fossil-fuel based power generation facilities or create demand for power generated by geothermal plants. So how far a stimulus for rig crews would really make a difference is maybe not as easy, particularly in the short term.

The authors though argue also long-term where clearly there is more substance, yet how far sighted politicians are in the current climate will have to be seen. Focusing on tax credits and zero percent interest loans for geothermal energy development and R&D investments for new technological approaches to geothermal energy utilization could provide a push towards a clean energy economy.

But – and the same applies to geothermal as well – with an idle industry for now, a lot of expertise, personnel and equipment can be lost, particularly dangerous in the context of strategically important energy security.

In an interview with REN21, IGA Executive Director Dr. Marit Brommer shares her view based on her experience in the oil sector. “The overlap between geothermal and oil and gas is in exploring, drilling and production. With this comes expert understanding of the earth’s sub-surface. It takes expert knowledge to find the right spots to drill, how to drill, what equipment is needed, and how to use it. During the current crisis, many skilled workers in oil and gas drilling companies are on standby. These workers could be re-deployed to the geothermal sector.”, so Marit Brommer.

And yes, she seems to agree to the concept of the overlapping know-how, expertise and services, yet also highlights the challenges oil and gas companies face in the shift to renewable energy and in particular geothermal energy.

The lengthy permitting procedures, discrimination in incentives and tax systems provide persistent barriers for geothermal development that clearly are not allowing any quick transfer of staff and drilling equipment from oil to geothermal projects.

https://www.thinkgeoenergy.com/how-real ... portunity/

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Re: How realistic are the hopes of oil workers in the geothermal opportunity?

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Some of the work in the Netherlands for direct-heat geothermal (for glass houses) drew on oil exploration technology and teams - for example this project : http://geothermalresourcescouncil.blogs ... ermal.html and the involvement of Amsterdam Petroleum Geoscience.

The very first seismic line I shot as a student labourer was used in another direct heat project in the UK : http://geothermalresourcescouncil.blogs ... al_27.html

Here in NZ there's a fair amount of crossover between the research groups in hydrocarbon and oil exploration.

Direct heat is probably the broadest use - unless some of the advances in using things like CO2 as a heat-transfer fluid come throough.

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Re: How realistic are the hopes of oil workers in the geothermal opportunity?

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The United States is sitting probably the biggest geothermal reservoir in the world around Yellowstone National Park. If it blows up, half of the continent might be put into misery. But apparently it's off limits for development.

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Re: How realistic are the hopes of oil workers in the geothermal opportunity?

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The potential in the US is much wider than that :

https://www.nrel.gov/gis/assets/images/ ... nd-egs.jpg

Direct heat use is one of the key things; in that context you are looking for how deep the resources are where the heat is needed. That is I think where a lot of the upstream oil and gas exploration skill-sets come into play - for these deeper resources. Neither the UK or the Netherlands are well known for their volcanic activity.

The kinds of reservoirs that are good for geothermal electricity tend to not be that great for conventional oil and gas upstream kind of work; they are seismically noisy environments, fractured, with fissures and so on. Methods used in mining (resistivity, MT) tend to work better, as well as passive seismic (noise-based imaging)

Much of the reservoir modelling is different as well; products like Leapfrog (which has its roots in mining) tend to be used along with things like TOUGH .

But - the money involved is much, much smaller is the key thing...

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