Heat Mining at the Geysers Geothermal Field
Using Reclaimed Wastewater
by Distinguished Lecturer
Marina Voskanian, Division Chief, California State Lands Commission
Worldwide high energy demand combined with rising oil prices and dwindling resources have fueled the need for developing renewable energy sources. For many years, the United States has led the world in the production of electricity from geothermal energy. The largest geothermal development in the world is located at The Geysers, in Northern California generating more than 1,000 megawatts of electrical power. To sustain productivity, operators undertook a unique method of heat mining within the geothermal reservoir through injection of treated waste water. This presentation provides an overview of two projects using reclaimed wastewater from surrounding regions and injecting into wells at the naturally fractured steam reservoir at The Geysers. The injected water moves through superheated fractured reservoir rock and is flashed to steam, helping to sustain the supply of steam. These unique technical projects are successful examples of government-industry collaboration in sustaining the productivity of an alternative energy source and providing environmental benefits by reducing waste. Conventional petroleum engineering techniques played a key role in the success of these projects. This presentation demonstrates a safe and successful application of high volume water injection into a fractured reservoir which has not been without controversy in the oil industry. Micro seismic monitoring by government research organizations confirms that, despite an increase in micro seismic activities, injection into fractured reservoir does not increase large earthquakes occurrences in the absence of large length faults. In conclusion, these technologies can very well be applied to other parts of the world to expand the life of geothermal and declining oil fields.
Marina Voskanian is the Division Chief of the CA State Lands Commission (CSLC). She directs the lease management and administration for extracting oil, gas, and geothermal and solid minerals from state-owned or controlled lands. Marina has been employed with the CSLC since 1987, and prior to that she held several engineering and management positions with Exxon Oil Company, Southern California Gas Company, Aminoil and Phillips Petroleum Company. She received Certificate of Excellence and Superior Accomplishment Award in 2002 from the State of California in honor of her outstanding accomplishments. In 1997, she was the recipient of Recognition Award from Assemblyman Steven Kuykendall, 54th District of California. SPE Distinguish Member and 2006-2007, 2009-2010, 2012-2013 SPE Distinguished Lecturer and recipient of several awards from SPE and other professional organization, Voskanian was awarded the 1998 Member Grade of Fellow of the Institute for the Advancement of Engineering. In 2010, the Western Region of the Society of Petroleum Engineers recognized Voskanian with the Regional Information and Management Award for her extensive contributions to the petroleum and energy industry in California and worldwide. Registered Petroleum Engineer, Marina received her graduate degrees in Petroleum Engineering in 1976 from the University of Southern California (USC). She has served as a part-time lecturer at USC and the California Polytechnic University teaching Petroleum engineering courses for 15 years.