Interview series: Bjarni Richter of ISOR & GeoThermHydro

Interview series: Bjarni Richter of ISOR & GeoThermHydro Geothermal exploration in the Andes. Many areas are difficult to get to so the travelling relies on techniques from the past – riding. Bjarni and local colleagues in the field.
Alexander Richter 12 Oct 2010

ThinkGeoEnergy had the pleasure to speak with Bjarni Richter senior geologist and marketing manager of Icelandic exploration firm ISOR, which is also a stakeholder in Chilean GeoThermHydro.

It is with great pleasure that I got the chance to post an interview with Bjarni Richter of ISOR and GeoThermHydro. Bjarni has been a big fan of ThinkGeoEnergy for a long time, so it is fantastic he took the time answering a few questions before heading to the GRC/ GEA event in Sacramento/ U.S. next week.

Bjarni Richter is a senior geologist, project- and Marketing Manager at Icelandic exploration firm ISOR. He is also on the Board of Directors of GeoThermHydro in Chile, a company owned jointly by ISOR and Icelandic engineering group Verkís.

Bjarni has been with ISOR and its predecessor, National Energy Authority, GeoScience Division, from 1998, except for 6 months in 2008 when he worked with Geysir Green Energy.

The main emphasis of Bjarni’s work since 1998 has been geothermal energy, mostly high temperature systems (both geosciences and technical aspects) as well as work in the fields of petroleum geology and marine geology for the Ministries of industry and the Ministry for foreign affairs.

How would you describe your company and your key activities and markets?

ISOR (Iceland GeoSurvey), is a consulting and research institute providing specialist services to the power industry, the Icelandic government and foreign companies, in particular in the field of geothermal sciences and utilisation. ISOR was founded in 1945 as a part of the State Electrical Authority, later Orkustofnun, the National Energy Authoirty. ISOR became an independent non-profit governmental research institute on the 1st of July 2003 and took over all responsibilities of the former GeoScience Division of Orkustofnun.

Systematic energy research by Icelandic government institutes started in 1932 and has been carried out continuously ever since. ISOR and its predecessors have since 1945 played a key role in this work. This research and the activities of the Icelandic power industry have resulted in that over 65% of the primary energy use in Iceland at present has its source in geothermal energy.

ISOR provides a wide variety of energy research, exploration and development services on contract in Iceland and abroad.

What are the services you offer to companies? Do you offer those services in the U.S. and how do you see the opportunities for your company in the U.S. or internationally?

The service that ISOR offers is mainly in the area of geothermal resource identification, surface exploration, conceptual modelling, drilling consultancy, well design well test design, drilling management, volumetric assessment, numerical simulation, field management and training. We offer also powerplant design, steamfield design and construction consultancy through our collaborators.

What do you consider the key obstacles and challenges for increased development in the U.S?

The key obstacles and challenges in the US, in my mind, is possibly the lack of local geothermal experts. Geothermal development in the US suffered a setback in the late 20th century (as well as many other places in the world) due to decreasing interest in geothermal as an energy source. This meant that the knowledge and experience slowly diminished. Fortunately this is changing rapidly, due to increasing interest in developing the geothermal as a substantial part of the future power production.

What do you think holds back speedier development of geothermal energy projects globally?

Geothermal development takes time. It is highly recommended to perform most of the surface exploration before exploration drilling starts and this phase takes usually a couple of years followed by necessary permitting and environmental assessment. It is commonly rather difficult to finance the first exploration wells as high mining risk may be involved, underlining the need for some risk mitigation measures. On the other hand by developing the resource stepwise (smaller units) in stead of going for the total capacity in one go, one can start getting revenue earlier.

Another factor that easily can delay the development is the licensing process and environmental permits, which can be very time consuming. By starting the preparation on these items as soon as possible they are less likely to delay the development.

What are your expectations for the event in Sacramento and who do you look forward to meet at GeoThermHydro’s booth?

Our expectation is to meet with companies and developers who need assistance and services with specific items within exploration or in developing their concessions, and we look forward to meet all companies that are planning on going into geothermal development and need a consultant for exploration and development.

Website of ISOR:

Website of GeoThermHydro: www.