A recent article in Journal of Petroleum Technology (JPT) magazine https://jpt.spe.org/microwave-drilling-sounds-like-science-fiction-but-so-does-drilling-down-to-the-hottest-rock describes the plans of a new drilling technology company, Quaise Energy, to utilise microwave drilling to enable the creation of geothermal wells at depths up to 20 km and temperatures up to 500°C . If we can successfully drill these wells, the result will be the ability to generate enormous amounts of clean electrical power. The proposed use of high-power microwaves is one of a number of new technologies that are competing with more conventional drilling techniques for what is set to be an exciting and transformative new market. A future blog will look at the variety of drilling technologies that are currently under development. This one will talk about how Hephae may be able to help to make microwave drilling a success.
In a departure from the plans of many operators we have spoken to, who are looking to drill horizontal wells – at least some of them to follow isotherms – the JPT article suggests that microwave drilling will require maintenance of an extremely straight wellbore. A wave guide is used to transmit the microwaves from the generator at the surface, and any tortuosity could interfere with energy transfer through said wave guide. Presumably this will be the case both for the rotary-drilled surface hole and the microwave-drilled deeper section.
Drilling such a straight wellbore will require continuous, accurate measurements of the well direction to be taken at the BHA in the same way as oil and gas wells use MWD, and the ability to instantaneously apply any course corrections needed to keep the well straight – at least so far as the relatively small drift diameter of the wave guide requires.
Fortunately, Hephae is developing both the MWD and the directional drilling technologies that will be vital to enabling this exciting new method of drilling.
Follow these posts to keep up to date with our progress as we make deep, hot directional (and vertical) geothermal wells a reality.
Rassenfoss, S. (2023). Microwave Drilling Sounds Like Science Fiction but So Does Drilling Down to the Hottest Rock. Journal of Petroleum Technology, January 2023. https://jpt.spe.org/microwave-drilling-sounds-like-science-fiction-but-so-does-drilling-down-to-the-hottest-rock
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