Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) - 10 Years Later – Still an Opportunity for International Collaboration


Gušmundur Ó. Frišleifsson, Albert Albertsson, and Wilfred A. Elders

Key Words:

IDDP, International collaboration, supercritical geothermal systems


World Geothermal Congress




39. Iceland Deep Drilling Project



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At the WGC-2000 in Japan the Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) and its initial plans were announced, and presented as an opportunity for international collaboration (Frišleifsson and Albertsson, 2000). Now 10 years later we review our accomplishment and announce the near future drilling and research plans of IDDP. A consortium from the Icelandic energy industry was established to fund the project and after some 5 years of preparation, IDDP intended to accept an offer from Hitaveita Sušurnesja hf., one of the consortium members, to deepen a 3082 m deep production well at the Reykjanes high-temperature system in SW-Iceland. The goal was to drill for 400–600°C supercritical fluid, in order to significantly increase the power output of geothermal wells relative to that possible from wells producing a subcritical mixture of steam and water. The Icelandic energy consortium agreed to fund the drilling and testing operation, and funds for obtaining drill cores for scientific study were awarded jointly by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) and the US National Science Foundation (NSF).

Unfortunately, the 3 km deep well of opportunity at Reykjanes became blocked during a production test in November 2005 and the well was abandoned in February 2006 when attempts to recondition the well failed. In 2006 IDDP decided to move to another drill field, namely the Krafla high temperature field in NE-Iceland, to attempt drilling into supercritical conditions. Alcoa Inc., an international aluminum company joined IDDP consortium as funding partner in 2007, and StatoilHydro ASA, a Norwegian oil company, joined the consortium in 2008.

The first full scale IDDP-1 well was meant to be completed late summer 2009 and the first flow test to be performed some months later. However, that drilling operation was abruptly terminated by late June at 2104 m when drilling penetrated molten rock. Rapidly quenched magma of rhyolitic composition was returned to the surface in the form of quenched obsidian glass that plugged the lowest 20 m of the hole. Fortunately, due to earlier drilling problems, the well had been cased down to 1958 m depth, and was completed with a slotted liner down to 2080 m depth. This was in preparation for a flowtest of the superheated regime just above a magma chamber, which should be performed autumn 2009.

Despite the fact that the primary goal of IDDP-1 to drill down to and test a hydrothermal system at supercritical condition was not met by the first IDDP well at Krafla in 2009, the IDDP program intends to move forward . IDDP plans to drill wells IDDP-2 and IDDP-3 in 2010-2012, at the Hengill and the Reykjanes geothermal systems in SW-Iceland. Additional funding for completing both these wells to target depths and subsequent flow and production testing is required – an opportunity for further international collaborations in IDDP.

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