October 20, 2008

Oil Well Hot Water Used to Make Power

The U.S. Office of Fossil Energy has announced the first successful generation of electricity using geothermal technology from a producing oil well.

"This project is unique in its production of onsite renewable power and has the potential to increase the productivity and longevity of existing U.S. oil fields," Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy James Slutz said.

The 12-month test began in September at a Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center site north of Casper, Wyo. Officials said the power system being used is a commercial standard design Ormat Organic Rankine Cycle power plant. The binary power unit uses hot water from a producing oil well as the heating fluid for a heat exchanger.

In the heat exchanger a secondary working fluid -- an organic fluid with a low boiling point -- is vaporized. That vapor is used to spin a turbine coupled with a generator to produce electricity. Output is connected to the field electrical system to power production equipment, and the produced energy is metered and monitored for both reliability and quality.

Officials said the power plant has been producing 150 to 250 gross kilowatts of power since it was first started.