Seequent’s Asia-Pacific Technical Sales Advisor for Energy, Andrew McMahon, talks about his take on current challenges in the geothermal energy industry.

The total installed global geothermal power generation capacity stands now at 14,369 MW, and that figure is set to rise. Geothermal workflows are becoming increasingly important – from exploration, to well planning, operation and maintenance. The biggest challenge I’m hearing though, is how we address geothermal data.

You might be working on a development which has decades of history and a huge amount of associated data including well, production and geophysics which has allowed for the establishment of a complete development program. Or you might be in a situation where all you have is basic data. How do we make the most of what geothermal data we have?

Firstly, effective data management practises are essential to ensure the correct data is being used along with a full understanding of the data used to create any models.

Secondly, it is vital that you can utilize all the data available to give the best picture of your resource conceptual model. It makes me think back to an exploration project I was involved with for geothermal operator Geodynamics. Our role was to perform an assessment on the geothermal potential of an active volcanic island just off Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. We were lucky enough to have some basic geological maps (see below), fluid chemistry from a PhD research paper and most surface manifestations had been fully mapped.

Geological map of Savo Island
Geological map of Savo Island (after Petterson et al., 2003

There was no consistent model which helped explain the features seen at surface so the next card from the geothermal play book was a full 3D Magnetotelluric (MT) survey over the entire island.

Unfortunately, the results of the MT survey alone created even more confusion. Taking all the geological, geochemistry and geophysical data in isolation created multiple scenarios and was no help in determining where the active system may be located.

This was where Leapfrog Geothermal really came into its own. We were able to utilise Leapfrog’s numerical modelling tools to visualize the MT with ease. The low resistivity surface indicated a nicely formed clay cap around the periphery of the island but not where we most expected it – which was under the central crater.

By being able to visualize all available data in a 3D sense, we were able to build and communicate a more complete picture.  Although there were still many unknowns, we were able to constrain where the most likely active system was and plan exploration drill holes as part of the next stage of the development plan.

Whether you have a complete development program, or a pure green fields exploration play, it is vital to have good data management practices, a solid understanding of your data, and the tools that can make the most of your data to give you the best picture of your resource conceptual model.

Here at Seequent, we are continuing to strive to offer you fit-for-purpose solutions, specifically for the geothermal industry. We added a data management solution, iPoint, to our portfolio in August, and we’re excited to bring you the latest version of Leapfrog Geothermal today.

Want to know more about Leapfrog Geothermal 3.7 Visit our website.