Geothermal demonstration project obtains federal approval

The Newberry Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) Demonstration project has undergone a formal Environmental Assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have reached a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).

Obtaining the FONSI decision will allow Newberry EGS to proceed with Phase II of the project. The project is a joint venture of Davenport Newberry and AltaRock.

The purpose of the Newberry EGS project is to demonstrate technology that will allow economic extraction of heat from the earth in locations where high temperatures can be reached by conventional drilling techniques. Successful completion of the demonstration is expected to maximize the potential for geothermal energy development in the U.S. The project is located in the Deschutes National Forest in central Oregon.

In issuing a FONSI, the regulatory agencies determined the project will not significantly affect the quality of the human or natural environment.

The first phase of the Newberry EGS Project involving planning for the well stimulation, environmental studies and public outreach, recently reached completion. Key participants with AltaRock in the execution of Phase I included federal agencies (BLM, Forest Service, and DOE), state agencies (Oregon Depts. of Geology and Mineral Industries, Environmental Quality, and Water Resources), government scientific labs (US Geological Survey and Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia National Laboratories), universities (Oregon State, Temple, and Texas A&M), and Davenport Newberry, the well and geothermal lease owner.

In Phase II of the Newberry EGS Demonstration, water will be injected into an existing hot well to create multiple reservoirs of connected cracks 6,500 to 11,000 feet below ground. Prior to the injection of water, an array of sensitive seismometers will be installed on the surface and in bore-holes for real-time monitoring of the EGS stimulation. Hydrologic monitoring will also be conducted during and after stimulation. Once the reservoirs are created, production wells will be drilled to intersect the stimulated fractures and flow tests will be conducted to evaluate the potential for using the EGS reservoirs as heat exchangers to produce electricity in the future. Phase II of the project is expected to be completed in 2014.

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