May 7, 2024

Lessons Learned from Utah FORGE Project in the US: Insights from the Field

We've just wrapped up the initial phase of tracer monitoring at Utah FORGE, the groundbreaking enhanced geothermal system (EGS) project in the US poised to become an important test case for scaling geothermal technology globally.

Utah FORGE is located at Milford, Utah, 320 km (200 mi) from Salt Lake City, and it is managed by the Energy & Geoscience Institute at the University of Utah and sponsored by the Department of Energy.  

This project marks a significant milestone as our first foray into the unique challenges of geothermal energy projects in the US. Our inaugural geothermal venture in the US has been a journey marked by learning, adaptation, and collaboration. Throughout the project, we've learned valuable lessons and managed to overcome various challenges. Here's a glimpse into our journey so far:

Deploying tracers in high-pressure environments: geothermal environments are characterized by high temperatures and high pressure. Deploying tracers under such harsh conditions presents a formidable challenge, particularly for the temperature stability of the tracers. Through extensive lab testing our fluid-based tracers successfully navigated this obstacle, ensuring reliable tracer deployment.

Minimizing carbon footprint: we prioritized sustainability by utilizing existing on-site equipment for tracer deployment, minimizing the need for additional resources. Further, the utilizing of our ultra-sensitive tracers allows minimal amounts of tracers to be used. This approach underscores our commitment to reducing environmental impact in all our projects.

Flexibility in volume and duration: meeting the demands of pumping programs changed on the fly, with prolonged pumping periods and increased volume requirements and stages added, required agile adaptation. We were able to swiftly recalibrate operational parameters to ensure efficient execution and correct dosing of tracer throughout stages.

Harnessing our multidisciplinary expertise: our team's diverse skill sets, spanning chemistry and frac operations, proved invaluable on-site. This multidisciplinary approach empowered us to anticipate challenges and streamline deployment processes.

Effective project management: The project landscape was characterized by many different stakeholders and their unique technologies. Effective communication and coordination were pivotal in managing complexities and ensuring smooth operations amidst evolving circumstances.

Utah FORGE site boasted a diverse array of stakeholders and cutting-edge technologies, including micro-seismic, fiber optics, fracturing, and wireline. Amidst changes and challenges, the different teams maintained seamless communication and coordination, ensuring transparency, efficiency, and above all, safety for all stakeholders throughout the project.

Project highlights:

• Pumping commenced on April 3rd, with sampling initiated on the nights of the 7th, 8th, and 9th.

• Despite operational challenges during the sampling period, prompt action from our team ensured operational continuity in the sampling.

• Sampling efforts persisted daily, overcoming drilling complexities to maintain consistency.

• All samples, 800 bottles, were sent to Norway during the last week of April.

Stay tuned for further updates as we continue to progress through this groundbreaking project. Learn more by reading our Utah FORGE project press release.

Partho Giri and Sven Kristian Hartvig