Geothermal energy provides many business opportunities for companies in the oil and gas industry

19 June 2018 - Published by Stig Marthinsen
June 13th, PERISCOPE-partner GCE Node organized a geothermal workshop in Kristiansand, Norway.

PERISCOPE brought together a group of experts on geothermal energy to explore new opportunities for technology transfer from the oil and gas industry. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the upper kilometres of the Earth’s crust hold heat energy that is several million times greater than the Earth’s annual energy consumption. The heat increases with increasing depth.

New business opportunities 

The Norwegian oil and gas industry is well positioned to take part in the growing market for geothermal energy. It represents new business opportunities especially for companies with drilling competence and other related technology. Geothermal energy is harvested when cold water is pumped into an injection well and returned as heated water in a producing well. In deep wells, the water will surface in the form of steam that can be used in industrial processes or to generate power in steam turbines. For geothermal energy to be profitable, it is however necessary to drill at a lower cost than offshore, and to penetrate rock formations that are harder than the ones found on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

– Competence and technology within exploration, reservoir management, drilling, well completion and logging and instrumentation is in demand. We have a lot to offer to the geothermal industry, says Carsten Sørlie, Project Leader for Geothermal Technology at Equinor (formerly known as Statoil).

Efficiency improvements

At the workshop in Kristiansand on June 13th, run by partner GCE NODE, Sørlie explained that superior drilling technology and competence from US onshore has reduced drilling time by 80%.

– This is mainly due to improved operational efficiency, and not so much based on technology. We are continuously looking to increase efficiency. Based on this drilling expertise, we have identified more than 100 possible improvements in the drilling plan for the IDDP2 project in Iceland. We believe there is a potential to cut drilling time with up to two thirds in geothermal drilling by applying the same principles, added Sørlie.

Oil and gas experience is valuable and the reasons are easily explainable.

– The industry has been able to put money into technology development. Geothermal has not. We believe the transfer of competence and technology from oil and gas can accelerate geothermal energy production, explained Sørlie.

He said that geothermal energy for power production is a niche technology that will have a place in the future power production systems, but he stressed the need for cost reductions and managing the upfront exploration risk.

Popular workshop

30 people attended the geothermal workshop in Kristiansand. SINTEF, UNI Research, North Tech Energy, Rock Energy and Castor Drilling Solutions were among the companies and institutions that gave presentations. A truly international event, Executive Director Barry Goldstein at Energy Resources South Australian State Government, provided an overview of market opportunities via Skype.

– I am sure the audience was given an understanding of the possibilities that geothermal energy represents for our industry, and for GCE NODE, which is a cluster with world-leading offshore drilling competence, says Marianne Engvoll, RD&I Manager at GCE NODE.