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GeoGlobal Energy Chile drills most productive geothermal well in South America

Tolhuaca National Park, Chile (source: flickr/ Pato Novoa, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 27 Aug 2012

GeoGlobal Energy Chile announces it has successfully completed the exploratory drilling program at the Tolhuaca mountain in southern Chile, with one of the wells being the most productive geothermal wells ever drilled in South America.

In an announcement today, New Zealand backed GeoGlobal Energy Chile Limitada, a wholly-owned affiliate of U.S.-based GeoGlobal Energy LLC (GGE), reported it has successfully completed the exploratory drilling program on the northwestern flank of the Tolhuaca mountain in southern Chile. One of the wells, Tolhuaca No. 4, is the most productive geothermal well ever drilled in South America.

A long-term flow test lasting more than 45 days has demonstrated that the production and injection wells are capable of supporting commercial power production, company officials said. GGE has been actively exploring at Tolhuaca for more than three years, and is continuing project development of the site – including design, permits and construction of the power plants and transmission lines – with a goal of power operations as early as 2014. Currently there are no operating geothermal power plants in South America.

“Completion of the wells is a historic development for Chile,” said Rudiger Trenkle, GGE Chile general manager. “Large hydro projects are being suspended in Chile and coal projects are being delayed for environmental reasons. Geothermal energy by contrast is a clean, baseload domestic fuel source that can play a critical role in helping meet the country’s power needs.”

GGE Chile acquired access to the site in January 2009 and drilled a successful exploration well in March 2009 that represented the first high-quality geothermal resource discovery in the country since the late 1960s. Development of Chile’s geothermal energy reserves is a stated priority of the government.

“The discovery of a proven commercial field is a game changer for geothermal in Chile,” said Gregory Raasch, executive vice president and co-founder of GGE, who has spent his career leading geothermal exploration and development programs worldwide. “This project demonstrates that geothermal energy can be a significant part of the Chilean electrical system and provide clean, reliable electrical power.”

The production well, Tol-4, was drilled to a depth of 2,300 meters and is producing high temperature steam sufficient to generate 12 MW of electrical energy, enough to supply the power needs for 45,000 households. It is the most productive geothermal well ever drilled in Chile or in any other country in South America. The injection well, Tol-3, drilled deeper at 2,575 meters, is capable of safely accepting all of the geothermal fluids from the power operations with the highest level of environmental protection.”

Source: Company release via The Sacramento Bee