Refining the Definition of a Geothermal Exploration Success Rate


Anna M. WALL, Patrick F. DOBSON

Key Words:

exploration, success rate, process


Stanford Geothermal Workshop







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833 KB

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The geothermal exploration process impacts project development timelines, costs, and overall perceived risk. However, the success in the exploration phase of a geothermal project—and the calculation of a success rate—is universally ill-defined. In previous studies, the success of a geothermal process is loosely defined as the number of wells that result in commercially-viable production. This work focuses on refining the definition of success for the exploration process to represent an upper bound to the likelihood a project will proceed into commercial production. This research examines the topic of success from both a top-down and bottom-up approach: a review of previous assessments of success rate that identifies common conditions leading to successful exploration, and a project-level review of geothermal sites in the western United States focused on decision points in the geothermal exploration process. The analysis not only considers the impact of factors outside of the geothermal reservoir (i.e. delays due to financing or land sales), but also touches on the length of the exploration process and the symbiosis between exploration methods. Using a combination of these analyses, future work will investigate which levers within the geothermal exploration process have the strongest influence on overall project success.

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