Alberta’s Oil and Gas industry has been a primary driver of the Canadian economy for some time. Since the downturn in oil prices and the loss of jobs throughout the industry, there has been an uptake of interest in renewable, clean energy. This uptake in green energy raises questions of the possible collaboration between the Oil and Gas industry and renewable energy. Is there room for clean energy, such as geothermal, to utilize the experience of the fossil fuel industry and how expansive could it be for renewables?
Jose Luis Caceres, Senior Wellsite Geologist and CEO with SustainablEarth Power, believes there are operational similarities between geothermal energy and the Oil and Gas industry. He suggests in a recent article that, “As we progress into the third decade of the present millennium, it is clear that the emergence of Geothermal is now underway and it is in part as a result of the technological heavy-lifting made by oil & gas mavericks and professionals. This is a new chapter for the energy sector as this symbiosis is only starting and will only gain momentum as it gets fueled by the pressing need for decarbonization of the energy matrix and for taking decisive steps towards climate action; in other words, it is poised to become transformational.”
Caceres also names technologies that have been developed by the Oil and Gas industry that has been used in, and are necessary for, harnessing Geothermal Energy:
Directional and Horizontal drilling
Geophysical prospection: 3D seismic and mapping
Wireline logging – petrophysics
Geomechanical and Geochemical analysis
He suggests that due to geothermal’s “operational similarities with the upstream portion of the oil & gas industry, that is prospection, exploration, and drilling; geothermal has the enormous potential to utilize oil and gas workforce without the need of any significant re-training.” He attributes the knowledge of subsurface data that is crucial for geothermal exploration to the Oil and Gas industry as well, “Needless to say petroleum geoscientists and engineers can transfer their skills towards geothermal and thus guaranteeing the best of results. Figuring out where exactly the best underground heat resources are located, how hot they are, and what sort of rock formations are nearby can be tackled to some extent with subsurface data already available thanks to oil and gas prospection and drilling.”