DEEP will commence drilling this month with the deepest horizontal well to date in Saskatchewan’s history, allowing for the installation of a large diameter submersible pump. This initial horizontal well will be the first step in constructing the first geothermal power facility in Canada. Early power generation technology is being sourced for immediate self-generation, supplying power for drilling, testing and construction activities for the Williston Basin’s first 20-MW geothermal power plant, which can supply enough power for approximately 20,000 households.
In addition to geothermal power generation, DEEP is pursuing the utilization of waste oilfield flare gas and solar generation to power the facility’s internal and external parasitic power requirements (cooling towers, lighting, pumps). This globally unique power hub will produce clean baseload power while significantly reducing fossil fuel emissions. Utilizing local world class oilfield drilling expertise, this project is a first step in Canada’s significant energy transition to clean power. This first 20 MW field would offset approximately 114,000 metric tons of CO2/year, equal to removing 32,000 cars off the road annually.
Major private and public sector greenhouse developments that support research into diverse high-value crops, increase farm profitability and supply locally grown produce will utilize waste heat from the project, providing major local employment opportunities and addressing national food security concerns.
“DEEP’s vision to build 100 MW of geothermal power and greenhouse development could be a new $1 billion industry for Southeast Saskatchewan,” said Kirsten Marcia, DEEP President and CEO.
“This is a first for Canada – and it’s the beginning of something big. Geothermal energy can create lots of jobs in Western Canada and across the country – all while helping us get to net zero,” noted Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources, Canada.
Previous winter drilling and testing demonstrate that the vast and predictable hot sedimentary aquifer at the base of the Williston Basin can support multiple 20 MW baseload geothermal power facilities. Flow tests and injection tests have demonstrated consistent and repeatable results in the Deadwood Formation sandstone. Testing of the Border-4 well, located to the west of the main project site, demonstrated the same consistent production rates.
The first geothermal production and injection “loop” test of its kind in Canada has been in operation since July 31, 2020, using Border-3 as the production well and Border-1 as the injection well. The reservoir and the wells are performing at or above expectations with no operational issues. DEEP has completed a preliminary subsurface design that optimizes the well spacing and configuration to produce 20 MW of geothermal power using ten horizontal wells (6 producers and 4 injectors). Each well will be drilled to a vertical depth of approximately 3.5 kilometers (km) and a horizontal length of approximately 2 km.
“We will produce enough high temperature volume from this first horizontal well to generate power utilizing Organic Rankine Cycle technology,” said Marcia. “We are in the process of procuring a temporary 200-400 kilowatt system, providing on-site power during the upcoming construction phase. It’s an exciting step.”
The resource and surface facilities engineering work to confirm the feasibility of the first 20 MW project is expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2021. The feasibility analysis will be based in large on the results of the large volume horizontal well loop test, leading to the final construction design in the Bankable Feasibility Report.
DEEP acknowledged the continued support from Natural Resources Canada for the funding announced in 2019 and for ongoing support in the development of Canada’s first geothermal power project. By re-deploying world class oilfield expertise on a renewable energy project for the first time in Canada, this Federal funding is providing employment opportunities in a sector hard hit by job losses. New opportunities created from this geothermal power project, such as heating for greenhouses and aquaculture (fish farming), will be a welcome economic boost for the province.