Pembina: The missing pieces in the geothermal puzzle in Alberta/ Canada

Oil well in Alberta/ Canada (source: flickr/ davebloggs007, creative commons)
Alexander Richter Alexander Richter 3 May 2018

With its oil and gas resources and industry, geothermal energy could be a rather strategic technology for Alberta, not only helping to utilise a local energy resource, but also utilising the know-how of its oil & gas sector, so an article by Canadian Pembina Institute.

Already published in December 2017, Pembina Institute in Canada provides a good overview on how (the Province of) “Alberta’s strengths in oil and gas make geothermal a strong possibility” … with it needing though somewhat of a push to get going.

We reported earlier this year on possibly the first geothermal project in Canada in the province of British Columbia, with the article of Pembina looking more at the context of utilising existing experience from the oil and gas sector and finding a way to utilise existing resources.

“Given the similarity between geothermal energy and oil and gas development, one might expect that Alberta would have a flourishing geothermal industry. Instead, Alberta only makes use of its geothermal resources through two commercially developed hot springs.”

“There are at least six synergies between geothermal energy and oil and gas development that offer Alberta’s geothermal industry specific advantages relative to many other jurisdictions.

For starters, the industry can leverage technical and non-technical skills within the oil and gas sector, such as exploration and drilling techniques and project management skills. Next, the oil and gas sector’s sub-surface data from can be used to indicate the scale and location of promising geothermal resources.

This would reduce project costs and increase the chance of drilling successful wells. Existing oil and gas wells may be utilized to produce geothermal energy or to explore for promising geothermal resources, thereby reducing drilling costs.

The Province can draw on experience regulating oil and gas resources to develop an effective regulatory framework for geothermal energy. We can also encourage investment in geothermal energy projects by drawing on experience managing financial risk for oil and gas projects.”

The article goes in further depth on what it would take to help push for development, highlighting strategic policy support, regulatory framework, risk reduction, guaranteed long-term price, and the need to test the synergies between oil and gas and geothermal energy.

It describes geothermal energy as a strategic technology for the province of Alberta, last but not least in the context of a challenging situation for the province’s oil sector at the moment.

Source: Pembina