Transitioning Oil & Gas Wells to Renewable Geothermal Energy

Infinity Turbine 2016 ROT IT50

Figure 1:  Radial Outflow Turbine Generator – Organic Rankine Cycle – ORC Turbine (1)

Existing oil and gas wells offer access to untapped sources of heat which can be converted to electricity or used for other energy intensive purposes.  This includes many abandoned wells, which can be reactivated as power sources.  These wells, in many cases “stranded assets” have been drilled, explored, and have roads built for access.  This makes re-utilization of existing infrastructure cost-effective while minimizing harm to the environment associated with exploration.

In a recently published article in Alberta Oil, an oil & gas industry magazine they point out many of the benefits of converting existing and abandoned wells to geothermal energy.

A recent Continental Resources-University of North Dakota project in the Williston Basin is producing 250 kW of power from two water source wells. The units fit into two shipping containers, and costs US$250,000. This type of micro-generation is prospective in Alberta, and a handful of areas also have potential for multi-MW baseload power production.

In addition to producing power, we can use heat for farming, greenhouses, pasteurization, vegetable drying, brewing and curing engineered hardwood. Imagine what Alberta’s famously innovative farmers and landowners would accomplish if they were given the option to use heat produced from old wells on their properties. Northern communities, where a great many oil and gas wells are drilled nearby, can perhaps reap the most benefits of all. Geothermal can reduce reliance on diesel fuel, and provide food security via wellhead-sourced, geothermally heated, local greenhouse produce. (2)

Water can be recirculated by pumps to extract heat from the earth, and through heat exchangers be used as a source of energy for various forms of machines designed to convert low grade waste heat into electricity.  The Stirling Cycle engine is one such mechanical device which can be operated with low grade heat.  However recent developments in the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) engine seem to hold the greatest promise for conversion of heat to electricity in these installations.

In a “boom or bust” industry subject to the cycles of supply and demand coupling a new source of renewable energy to resource extraction makes sense on many fronts.  It could be an economic stimulus not only to the province of Alberta, but throughout the world where oil and gas infrastructure exists, offering new jobs and alternative local power sources readily available.

References:

(1)  http://www.infinityturbine.com/

(2)  http://www.albertaoilmagazine.com/2016/10/geothermal-industry-wants-abandoned-wells/

Related Blog Posts:

  1. https://duanetilden.com/2016/01/14/alberta-energy-production-and-a-renewable-future/
  2. https://duanetilden.com/2014/12/21/renewable-geothermal-power-with-oil-and-gas-coproduction-technology-may-be-feasible/
  3. https://duanetilden.com/2015/07/25/a-new-era-for-geothermal-energy-in-alberta/
  4. https://duanetilden.com/2015/07/27/oil-well-waste-water-used-to-generate-geothermal-power/
  5. https://duanetilden.com/2013/10/29/supercritical-co2-refines-cogeneration-for-industry/

Fox Creek Fracking Operations Stopped After Latest Earthquake

A hydraulic fracturing operation near Fox Creek, Alta., has been shut down after an earthquake hit the area Tuesday.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.cbc.ca

“[…] The magnitude 4.8 quake was reported at 11:27 a.m., says Alberta Energy Regulator, which ordered the shutdown of the Repsol Oil & Gas site 35 kilometres north of Fox Creek.

Carrie Rosa, spokeswoman for the regulator, says “the company has ceased operations … and they will not be allowed to resume operations until we have approved their plans.”

Rosa added the company is working with the energy regulator to ensure all environmental and safety rules are followed.

In a statement, Repsol confirmed the seismic event and said the company was conducting hydraulic fracturing operations at the time it happened. […]

Jeffrey Gu, associate professor of geophysics at the University of Alberta, said the area surrounding Fox Creek has been experiencing a proliferation of quakes lately.

He estimates in the last six months there have been hundreds of quakes in the area ranging in magnitude from 2.0 to 3.0.

But it is not considered a risky area with a such low population, said Gu, who added that Fox Creek and the surrounding region is carefully monitored by the energy regulator.

“There are faults in this area that have been mapped, have been reported in that area, but nothing of significance,” he said.

“It’s a relatively safe area without major, major faults.”

Still, Gu said, there were two fairly large quakes in the area in January 2015, one of which had a magnitude of 4.4.

He wasn’t able to confirm that they were caused by fracking, but said it is “highly probable.”

The energy regulator said at the time that the 4.4 magnitude quake was likely caused by hydraulic fracturing. […]

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A New Era for Geothermal Energy in Alberta?

Standard thinking for decades has been that geothermal technology is too costly and inefficient to be a significant source of energy. But a growing number of experts say the time may be right for geothermal to assume a higher profile, especially in ‘perfectly situated’ Alberta.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.cbc.ca

>” […] The economics of renewable energy projects are improving as governments begin to introduce carbon taxes and other fees on large carbon-emitting facilities, such as coal power plants.

Geothermal power plants turn hot water into electricity. Companies drill underground for water or steam similar to the process of drilling for oil. The heat is brought to the surface and used to spin turbines. The water is then returned underground.

“I think Alberta is perfectly situated to make the technology work,” said Todd Hirsch, chief economist with ATB Financial. “All the geothermal energy experts say it is all wrong for Alberta. You have to go down so deep to get any heat. Well actually, we have experience drilling through four miles [6.4 km] worth of rock to get at other things that are valuable.”

Hirsch describes geothermal as “a perfectly green, perfectly renewable source of electricity.” He also suggests geothermal could be a boon for the province, where companies have had a knack for developing “marginal resources” such as the oilsands.

“I think geothermal energy might be one that Alberta wants to champion specifically because it doesn’t work here,” said Hirsch. “If we can make it work here in Alberta, then it is a cinch to sell the technology to the Chinese and the Germans and everyone elsewhere geothermal doesn’t work.” […]

What are the costs?

Geothermal power plants cost more money than natural gas facilities. For some perspective, consider the Neal Hot Springs plant in Oregon that was constructed in 2012 for $139 million for 22 megawatts of production.

The Shepard natural gas power plant in Calgary began operating this year with a total cost of $1.4 billion for 800 megawatts of electricity. In this comparison, the geothermal facility costs three times as much per megawatt of power.

Enbridge, a part-owner of the Neal Hot Springs plant, has said the plant saves about 159,000 tonnes per year of carbon dioxide emissions compared to a similar-sized natural gas facility, and about more than 340,000 tonnes per year compared to a coal power plant.

Coal facilities supply nearly 40 per cent of electricity in Alberta.

While the NDP government has yet to announce a specific policy, the party ran on a campaign platform in the recent election pledging to phase out coal.

Premier Rachel Notley has announced an increase to the province’s carbon pricing rules and is expected to announce significant climate change policies this year. Such changes improve the economics of renewable energy projects, such as geothermal.

“It requires a long-term vision to develop,” said Dunn. “How much do we want to invest in the future?” “<

See on Scoop.itGreen Energy Technologies & Development

New Alberta Oilsands Projects to Start Up Despite Falling Oil Prices

Oil producers are set to be squeezed as a total of 14 new oilsands projects are scheduled to start next year while crude prices continue to fall

Source: business.financialpost.com

” […] “There is a lot of crude coming on next year,” Juan Osuna, IHS Energy Inc.’s senior director for North American oil said in a phone interview Dec. 12. Producers “aren’t going to be happy, they will make a greater effort to cut costs, but they have been prepared for this.”

Western Canadian Select fell to US$39.38 a barrel Monday, the lowest since April 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The grade, which has higher sulfur content than U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate, sold at an average US$18.78 a- barrel discount in the past year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Oilsands projects slated to start next year include ConocoPhillips and Total SA’s joint 118,000 barrel a day Surmont project and the 40,000-barrel-a-day expansion of Cenovus Energy Inc.’s Foster Creek project […]

Sunrise Project

Husky Energy Inc. said last week it began steam operations on its Sunrise crude project with the first phase set to begin pumping oil by early next year.

While oilsands producers may curtail future development, most existing operations won’t be shut and ones under construction will go ahead because of the investments involved and potential harm to future output, Osuna said.

Cenovus said Dec. 11 production would rise 9 per cent to 129,000 barrels a day from its Foster Creek and Christina Lake projects next year even as it lowered its spending plan by about 15 per cent.

Canada’s oilsands output is projected to rise to 3.7 million barrels a day by 2020 from 1.98 million last year, according to a report last month by the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

Brent oil traded near US$61 a barrel Monday as the United Arab Emirates said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will resist output cuts even if prices slump as low as US$40. […]”<

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Keystone XL Pipeline Climate Backgrounder

Pembina Institute Backgrounder, January 2013

Source: www.documentcloud.org

>”The climate implications of the proposed Keystone XL oilsands pipeline

by Nathan Lemphers

At a Glance Canada’s oilsands industry is growing quickly, with plans to nearly triple production from 1.8 to 5.2 million barrels a day by 2030.

To realize this substantial growth, pipelines to export markets are essential. TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline from the oilsands to a new market on the U.S. Gulf Coast is the most significant proposal awaiting approval. If built, Keystone XL will be a key driver for oilsands growth.

Other alternatives to ship oilsands to the west or east coast of Canada will, for the short to medium term, play a less dominant role in accelerating oilsands development.  These other proposals are smaller in pipeline capacity than Keystone XL, are in the very early stages of development, or face major public opposition. Regardless of whether other oilsands transport options move ahead, approval of Keystone XL will lead to substantial expansion of oilsands production and therefore an increase in global greenhouse gas emissions.

Filling Keystone XL with oilsands will cause a 36 per cent increase from current oilsands production, for which the higher upstream emissions alone will be equivalent to the annual emissions from 6.3 coal-fired power plants or over 4.6 million cars. This value will be higher when the additional emissions from upgrading and refining in the U.S. are considered.

In the absence of a credible plan for responsible development of the oilsands, including mitigating GHG emissions growth to a level that would allow Canada to meet its international climate commitments, the United States should not go ahead with the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

[…]”<

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Will Falling oil prices cause oil sands shut-downs in Alberta?

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice says his province’s oil companies are not facing closures, even as prices approach $70 a barrel.

Source: www.ctvnews.ca

>””We don’t see oilsands operations shutting down,” Prentice told CTV’s Question Period in an interview that aired Sunday. “These are massive capital investments that have been built on a 50-year time horizon.”

Crude oil prices have dramatically fallen since June, when prices reached this year’s high of $107.54 USD per barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil. On Friday, WTI oil was about $75.70 per barrel.

[…]

The report said falling oil prices have been caused by large supply, low demand, and strong U.S. dollar. In order for the price to stabilize, “further oil price drops would likely be needed for supply to take a hit — or for demand growth to get a lift,” it said.

Analysts suggest that once prices fall below $72 a barrel, companies will begin to face serious financial consequences, and that some may be forced to close. But Prentice said Albertan oilsands companies are expected to survive the continuing drop in prices, even if they reach that $72 threshold.

Conservative Alberta MP Kevin Sorenson, the minister of state for finance, disagrees, saying falling oil prices could hurt employment numbers.

“We know that if oil prices continue to fall … in the long term that’s going to be very difficult,” Sorenson told Question Period. “It’s not so much that $70 is the plateau, but if it continued to fall, we could expect that there would be job losses.”

Though Prentice was more optimistic about the “resilience” of Albertan companies, he also said falling prices are cause for concern.

“I don’t want to underestimate the importance of this. The low-price environment has a significant implication for all of us,” Prentice said.

The premier said new projects may need to be postponed, and that the Albertan government must be prepared to control spending and budgeting.

According to the Alberta government’s budget website, if oil prices drop even $1 per barrel over 12 months, it can result in more than $200 million less in revenue for the province.

[…]

But Alberta’s provincial government factors all these variables into their economic forecasts.

“People need to be aware it’s a time for fiscal prudence. It’s a time for caution,” Prentice said Sunday. “And it’s a time to control what we can control, which is our public expenditures.” “<

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/falling-oil-prices-won-t-cause-shut-downs-in-alberta-prentice-1.2104374#ixzz3JXBPxTA3

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