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Ormat Signs DOE R&D Agreement for Oilfield Power

Reno, NV-based geothermal power company Ormat Technologies Inc. said last week that it signed a shared-cost agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to validate its proven geothermal power production system's applicability to using the hot water produced as an offshoot of oilfield production. DOE and Ormat will conduct the research and development work at the DOE's Rocky Mountain Oil Test Center near Casper, WY.

Ormat will cover the cost of installing its commercial air-cooled, skid-mounted standard design "Orangic Rankine Cycle" (ORC) system, and DOE will operate the facility for a 12-month period at the test center. Ormat said it would pay about two-thirds of the estimated cost of the test and study, which is expected to be less than $1 million, with DOE picking up the rest.

The R&D project is aimed at two large unutilized sources of hot water at the DOE oil test site's Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 3, which produces enough hot water to generate 200 kW of power, according to Ormat. "The project will consist of the installation, testing and evaluation of a binary geothermal power unit in the field near these hot water sources," an Ormat spokesperson said.

Power generated from the Ormat equipment will be interconnected with the oilfields electrical system, and the test will monitor its use and reliability, Ormat's spokesperson said.

The Ormat equipment used in the test is similar to a 250 kW air-cooled unit that has been producing electricity from 210-degree F geothermal water for more than six years in Austria, and to other units Ormat has had operating in Nevada and Thailand for the last 18-22 years, the company said.

Ormat has identified some 8,000 oil wells in Texas that are similar to the one at the Wyoming test center. The company is now assessing the feasibility of using some of these wells to support onsite power generation in the oilfields in and around the Permian Basin. Worldwide, Ormat has about 900 MW of geothermal-produced power, the spokesperson said.

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