WorldWide Drilling Resource® 257 Caroline Street Punxsutawney, PA 15767 800-927-0560 • 814-427-2555 Fax: 814-427-5164 SERVING THE WATER WELL INDUSTRY Serving the Drilling Industry 22 OCTOBER 2020 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® Researchers to Study Seismic Data for Geothermal Development Adapted from Information by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Calpine Corporation The California Energy Commission (CEC) is providing research funding to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to study the use of seismic and electromagnetic data for mapping geothermal reservoirs and to see if enhanced imaging of the reservoir’s structural features could help with locating production wells. The $1.7 million project will take place at the world’s largest producing geothermal field, The Geysers in Northern California. Currently, geothermal energy provides just under 6% of California’s total electrical power generation, but the state’s geo- thermal potential is much higher. In fact, according to the CEC, nearly half of California’s known geothermal resources remain untapped. This study could enhance the development of some of those resources. Berkeley Lab scientists David Alumbaugh and Michael Commer will be partnering with colleagues at the USGS (United States Geological Survey), along with Array Information Technology and Jarpe Data Solutions, to develop and test the inno- vative geophysical imaging technology. Using a combination of seismic and electromagnetic signals, this process will be used to generate high-resolution images of the subsurface which outline steam-filled and fluid-filled areas of the reservoir. This will allow companies, such as Calpine Corporation which operates most of the geothermal plants at The Geysers, to improve reservoir models. “The more accurate it is, the better they can control the injection of water and the production of steam to optimize their energy production,” said Alumbaugh. “That saves money for them and for ratepayers.” If the method can be demonstrated, it can be applied at any geothermal field producing steam. It could also be used to determine the best location for new production wells. Since one of the major obstacles to expanding geothermal energy is the high up-front costs of drilling a new well, this process has the potential to make geothermal energy more economically attractive, possibly leading to further development of California’s geothermal resources. Photo of the Grant power plant operating at The Geysers courtesy of Calpine Corporation. GEO