Interference between geothermal doublets across a fault under subsurface uncertainty: Implications for field development and regulation

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Abstract

Direct Use Geothermal Systems (DUGS) are increasing their installed capacity worldwide and denser developments with multiple doublets are becoming more common. Interference between doublets therefore becomes an additional concern to subsurface uncertainties. Faults can be either barriers or conduits to flow and can affect the fluid pathways inside the reservoir. The interference between two doublets that are separated by a fault has not been previously studied for DUGS. In this work considering subsurface uncertainty in a full factorial design using 5184 3D reservoir simulations we show that a fault can reduce the system lifetime of a two-doublet system by more than 40 % if one doublet is at close proximity to it. Further, we identify that the fault can also improve both the system lifetime and generated Net Present Value (NPV) with appropriate development decisions. Contrary to previous results that did not consider reservoir architecture, a tramline well configuration is preferable when the doublets have the fault in the centre, while a checkerboard configuration is preferable as the distance to the fault decreases. The Heat In Place (HIP) recovery shows a linear relationship with flow rate and well spacing that is not affected by the fault distance or flow properties. The dimensions of the Influence Area (IA) previously considered are insufficient to capture the temperature drop at the producer wells and the fault position can increase this discrepancy. Our results show the importance of fault characterisation and well positioning with respect to a fault considering subsurface uncertainty and how this can affect denser field development of DUGS. Our findings suggest to integrate faults and the relative positioning of well doublets with respect to a fault more strongly in field development plans. Such considerations should also be included in future optimization plans of multi-well geothermal systems. Moreover, the regulatory framework should be revised to achieve a better match between the IA boundary and the production well temperature drop to enable better planning for denser development of DUGS.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102041
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalGeothermics
Volume91
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Fault
  • Geothermal doublet interference
  • Heat in Place (HIP) recovery
  • Lifetime
  • NPV
  • Uncertainty

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