At Chinook Consulting, we are firmly rooted in our oil and gas expertise, while actively pursuing developments in renewable energy and alternate resources. We were always at the forefront of technology and novel approaches, and we continue to prioritize new and exciting developments as part of our growth strategy. Transferable skills from the oil and gas sector and their use in emerging energy industries are part of this strategy.
The energy mix will contain more renewable sources in addition to traditional resources. Production of geothermal, wind, solar and hydrogen will increase going forward, along with production of coal, natural gas, oil and uranium. In a world of increasing energy demand, “all of the above” is the preferred stance when it comes to energy production.
Lithium and other mined resources will continue to be important for batteries technology.
A host of technologies developed in oil and gas production can be successfully transferred in exploration and production of alternative energy such as geothermal or hydrogen, for critical resources like lithium or for carbon storage.
Deep geothermal wells, production/injection doublets or closed systems, are drilled with the same equipment, expertise and consideration as deep oil and gas wells. Blue hydrogen can be obtained from natural gas reservoirs in a manner that eliminates greenhouse gas production. Carbon storage in depleted reservoirs sequestrates greenhouse gases, while adding pressure used for tertiary recovery of hydrocarbons. Lithium is produced from brine associated with oil and gas reservoirs, from fluids that were considered wasteful byproducts not so long ago.
Each component of the energy mix has advantages and disadvantages, pros and cons, but used together, efficiencies can be found to generate energy in a clean and economic manner.
Geothermal energy generation has been around for many years. Some areas are better suited than others, depending on geothermal gradients and proximity to consumers. Iceland produces cheap geothermal energy from reservoirs in close proximity to the surface, built close to urban developments. Other areas require a larger investment to produce geothermal heat, and even larger for electricity generation.
Cost and pay-out time, as well as reduced energy density weigh down the applicability of deep geothermal energy generation in certain geographic areas. On the other hand, the enormous capacity of earth’s heat makes geothermal a steady source of energy.
Canadian projects and developments:
- Eavor Technologies: Eavor-Loop systems based on completed Eavor-Lite demonstration project in Rocky Mountain House, AB
- Terrapin: Alberta No. 1 project by Grande Prairie, AB
- Borealis Geopower: developments proposed in Valemount, BC and Fort Liard, NWT
- DEEP: Ongoing development with doublets in Estevan, SK
- Deh Tai GP: Re-purposing of a depleted gas field for geothermal energy extraction in Fort Nelson, BC
- Epoch Energy: proposed geothermal district heating in Hinton, AB
Lithium is an element used in modern batteries. With more electric vehicles on the road, the demand for lithium is steadily rising. Traditionally, it is mined, mostly in Australia ans China, or produced from evaporation ponds, such as projects in Bolivia; the extraction of petro-lithium from brine associated with hydrocarbon reservoirs has the advantage of being close to production sites and transportation infrastructure (pipelines).
The challenge, addressed by ongoing technological advances, is enriching the lithium content to thresholds that make commercial upgrading and production economically viable. Ion exchange and nanotechnology are technological development that are leading to commercialization of Lithium extraction and production.
- E3 Metals: Lithium production from Leduc Formation brine in Central Alberta, using proprietary and commercial processes for enrichment and upgrading
- Prairie Lithium: direct Lithium extraction from brine aquifers in the Williston basin of South-Eastern Saskatchewan.
- Summit Nanotech: Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology utilizing interconnected modules using nanopourous membranes for specific filtration techniques
Hydrogen fuel cells are a reality, with a few vehicle manufacturers offering models built for hydrogen fuel. Hydrogen can be produced in a few ways: from water, through electrolysis or from natural gas, through steam methane reforming. The first method is energy intensive and expensive, the second method leaves carbon dioxide as a by-product. Underground combustion with carbon dioxide sequestration is a solution that is clean and affordable.
Hydrogen can be transported to some extent in existing natural gas pipelines (up to a certain percentage), but needs new infrastructure for large scale transportation, distribution and consumption. Hydrogen, like other fuels, is combustible, and needs to be handled with caution.
- Proton Technologies: clean hydrogen production utilizing oxygen injection and semipermeable filters in existing elevated temperature petroleum reservoirs in West-Central Saskatchewan
Carbon sequestration and storage
Large energy projects produce associated greenhouse gases. Carbon sequestration and storage emerged as a solution in offsetting emissions and in some cases re-using sequestered carbon dioxide in tertiary petroleum recovery as part of complex EOR strategies.
- Alberta carbon trunk line: CO2 captured at the Sturgeon Refinery and the Nutrien Redwater fertilizer plant East of Edmonton is transported hundreds of kilometres and pumped underground in depleted oil reservoirs. Plate capacity is 14.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year, which is the equivalent of capturing CO2 from more than 2 million cars per year.
- Shell Canada Quest Project: captures CO2 from Shell’s Scotford upgrader and transports it 65 km north and stores it in geological formations 2 km underground.
- Whitecap: Carbon dioxide captured from the Boundary Dam Power Station in Estevan, SK and coal gasification projects in North Dakota are liquefied and injected in geological formations near Weyburn, SK for increased production utilizing a CO2 flood.
Heat and energy are often produced together. Warm water is many times produced along with oil and gas from hydrocarbon wells. Lithium is present in small concentrations but large quantities in reservoir water associated with petroleum bearing formations.
Sequestered carbon dioxide is re-injected in oil reservoirs to restore formation pressure. Hydrogen can be produced directly in hydrocarbon reservoirs.
Storage using geological layers is widely used for natural gas. A new approach proposes energy storage in underground formations, using Geomechanical Pumped Storage, through water injection in shallow reservoirs.
- Razor Energy: heat exchange from water co-produced with oil, augmented with heat from natural gas power generation in Swan Hills, Alberta
- Vermilion Energy: exchange energy from warm water produced with oil is used to heat greenhouses in the Aquitaine Basin, France
- Various small scale natural gas generators are used to generate heat for warming along with electricity
Let’s imagine a development where natural gas is burned in-situ to generate hydrogen, in a process that warms up water, that is produced for geothermal energy generation, while being stripped of lithium and all the while carbon dioxide is pumped back in the reservoir to maintain formation pressure.
Many technologies trialed and advanced to market in the oil and gas industry have direct application in renewable energy development. Transferable expertise and technologies offer opportunities for individuals and companies who have been involved with traditional forms of energy production in areas such as renewable power and alternative resources.
Chinook offers several services tailored to the renewable energy industry:
- Geological Wellsite Supervision
- Drilling and Completions
- Reservoir studies
- Laboratory services
Chinook is a member of several organizations:
- CanGEA, a not-for-profit organization committed to advancing science and promoting geothermal research and development in Canada.
- Geothermal Canada, an organization that promotes the industry and the potential of geothermal energy in Canada through outreach events, research, policy work and representation of Canadian interests internationally.
- CSPG, the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists, a non-for-profit with several divisions, including a Geothermal and International division
- CGEF, the Canadian Global Exploration Forum, an organization that takes Canadian oil and gas expertise and technology around the globe, with a focus on clean tech.