StatoilHydro ASA joins the Iceland Deep Drilling Project
20. June 2008
The consortium collaborating to test the IDDP concept now consists of the three leading Icelandic power companies, Hitaveita Sudurnesja Ltd., Landsvirkjun, Orkuveita Reykjavikur, together with Orkustofnun, Alcoa Inc. and the New Energy Division of StatoilHydro ASA.
The first IDDP well will be drilled at the Krafla geothermal field in the latter part of 2008 and early spring 2009 and tested the same year. Pre-drilling of this first IDDP well with a 36” casing started this week. Two optional, additional IDDP wells, ~4 km deep, will be drilled at the Hengill (IDDP well 2) and the Reykjanes (IDDP well 3) geothermal fields during 2009-2011, and subsequently deepened. Pilot plant testing should be completed around 2015.
Each of the Icelandic power companies have already made a commitment to drill at their own cost one 3.5-4.0 km deep well in a geothermal field that they operate. These wells will be designed so that they will be suitable for deepening to 4.5-5.0 km.
The deepening of one of these wells, as a joint IDDP-project, will be funded by the consortium with additional funds from international scientific agencies. With the addition of StatoilHydro, a partial funding for deepening IDDP wells 2 and 3 is in sight, although the current contract mostly deals with the IDDP program in the first IDDP well in Krafla.
The main objective of the IDDP is to investigate whether it is economically feasible to produce energy and chemicals from geothermal systems at supercritical conditions. This will require drilling to depths of 4 to 5 km in order to reach temperatures of 400–600°C . Today, typical geothermal wells range up to 2.5 km depth and produce steam at about 300°C and at a rate sufficient to generate about 4-7 megawatts of electricity.
It is estimated that producing steam from a 4-5 km deep well penetrating a reservoir hotter than 450°C could generate 40-50 MW of electricity. If testing this idea proves successful, it could lead to a major step forward in the economics of developing high-temperature geothermal resources worldwide.
Investigating such deep high-temperature geothermal resources requires highly developed drilling and well testing technology and may need modification of techniques for steam treatment and energy production. Both the former Statoil and Hydro of Norway, now joined as StatoilHydro ASA, have been technically leading in offshore drilling operations in the world, and their technical skill will undoubtedly strengthen the IDDP project.
The IDDP has engendered considerable international science interest since the beginning of the project. In 2005, both the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) granted major funds to support the IDDP science program. Most of these science funds will now be used to get drill cores for scientific studies from rocks in the deeper parts of the IDDP well in Krafla.