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Annual conference highlights developments in oil & gas industry for geothermal sector


Originally Posted: January 22, 2018

Earlier this month, Southern Methodist University (SMU) hosted its 9th annual international “Power Plays” conference from January 10th-11th in Dallas, Texas. The conference was centered on recent advances in the oil and gas industry and how these promote further production of geothermal energy through the capture of waste heat and fluid, among other methods. It was planned and executed on behalf of SMU’s renowned Geothermal Lab, headed by Dr. Maria Richards.

The conference opened with an evening reception and poster session on Wednesday, January 10th from 6-8pm. Posters focused on a myriad of topics from water-hammer drilling techniques, to new geothermal resource exploration in Indonesia, to supercritical extraction of lithium from geothermal waters.

Thursday, January 11th, was filled with nearly 9 hours of stimulating panels and presentations from experts in industry and academia alike. The morning began with a panel discussion from the pre-conference workshop on co-production of geothermal energy from waste heat in coal-fired power plants. The focus transitioned briefly to focus directly on oil and gas wells, with presentations on purchasing bankrupt oil and gas assets and lesson learned in converting gas wells for geothermal uses. The remainder of the time before lunch was dedicated to a fascinating panel on geothermal storage applications which discussed thermal storage in saline ponds; coupling geothermal and solar to allow for fluctuations in demand from the grid; and solar-augmented geothermal, a relatively new idea which harnesses solar heated water to store in a subsurface reservoir. The afternoon was comprised of numerous case studies on the co-production of geothermal from oil and gas including challenges on co-production in Eastern Europe, a low temperature binary geothermal system in North Dakota, and the Basel and Otaniemi EGS projects in urban areas of Europe.

A pre-conference workshop hosted by Blade Energy and the SMU Geothermal Lab titled “Coal and Geothermal: A Parth Forward” was held on Wednesday, January 10th. The workshop discussed the decommissioning of aging United States coal plants and how geothermal energy can be used to reduce the dependency on coal but still provide base-load energy during the transition.

C-FER Technologies hosted a post-conference workshop on Friday, January 12th on “Thermal Well Design & Integrity for Geothermal Applications”. The full day workshop included sections on casing and tubulars, cement selection, common mechanisms of failure in thermal wells, and wellbore mitigation and repair.

The collaborative nature of this conference is unique and specifically appropriate to Texas and Louisiana, where the presence of deep sedimentary basins and plethora of oil and gas wells (both in use and decommissioned) open numerous possibilities for co-generation. SMU plans to continue hosting this conference in successive years. For more information, please visit the SMU Geothermal Laboratory’s website.