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Oil company proposing geothermal for power generation at the wellsite

Clean Sustainable Energy Authority director Al Anderson
Dave Thompson
Clean Sustainable Energy Authority director Al Anderson

An energy company has been given a nearly $1.1 million grant from North Dakota’s Clean Sustainable Energy Authority for a geothermal power generation project on oil well sites.

The company is Enerplus.

CSEA director Al Anderson told the North Dakota Industrial Commission geothermal will be used for a dual purpose – for cooling and electrical power at the well site.

"It will reduce not only fuel usage for on-site generators, but it will also reduce or eliminate utility power usage, and associated greenhouse gas emissions," Anderson said. "It could also increase the power grid resiliency in remote locations."

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms told the Commission, in eastern McKenzie County and in northern Dunn County, about 15 percent of the well pads don’t have grid power.

"They're being powered with gas-fired or diesel-fired generators right now," Helms said. "There's a major scale-up, pretty rapidly, as soon as that technology is proven."

Helms said eventually, geothermal systems could be used at half the well pads in the Bakken, especially as production moves into higher groundwater areas.

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