NZ Governments Funds Research On Deep, Very High Temperature Geothermal Resources

GNS Science has received funding of ca NZ$11 million (around USD 7 million) for a research project on the utilisation of deep, superheated geothermal fluids.

The Government of New Zealand has announced it is investing $241 million in leading research projects that will help find new ways to address long-term issues like increasing our sources of renewable energy, growing knowledge-intensive industries, and tackling New Zealand’s social issues says Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods. The Endeavour Fund uses an open, contestable process to select excellent research proposals that will provide the highest potential impacts across a range of economic, environmental and societal objectives. This year, 71 projects were awarded funding through the fund which is New Zealand’s largest contestable research fund. The successful projects can be found here. Among the projects is a geothermal project by GNS Science, as reported by The project led by Dr. Isabelle Chambefort is working on how to tap deep, very high temperature resources. “Our science will deliver new options to significantly reduce emissions – as well as providing vital regional perspective and opportunities for iwi and regional development,” GNS Science chief executive Ian Simpson says. The idea is to utlise deep superheated geothermal fluids, that could provide new options for the energy needs of emerging industries like the hydrogen economy. “The Government is funding important research to tackle the big issues, and improve living standards and wellbeing through productive, inclusive and sustainable economic development. The fund does this by backing research that is aimed at growing R&D intensive industries, transitioning to a low emissions economy and supporting the well-being of our people and communities. “This year we will see $37 million will go to projects to help our transition to a low emissions and climate resilient economy, through the development of new energy opportunities and new materials. Projects like the GNS Science led ‘Geothermal: The next generation’ will look for new ways to extract geothermal energy at greater depths. “$91 million is being invested in projects that help to create and grow knowledge-intensive industries, including the Plant & Food Research-led ‘Re-imagining aquaculture’, which will develop low-impact offshore technologies to transform finfish production in New Zealand. “We’ve also funded a wide range of social research so that we can find ways to reduce child poverty, and prison violence, and improved child protection services. Performing research in these areas is crucial to turning the tide on the negative statistics we face on these issues. “The quality of the projects funded this year demonstrates New Zealand’s growing strength in applying leading edge science to help improve the lives of New Zealanders,” Megan Woods said.

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Providence Resources To Park Green Energy Business Plan

Under-pressure exploration company Providence Resources has no plans to further develop its newly-created ‘green’ energy subsidiary for the foreseeable future. The company is currently awaiting vital funding from its development partners, to finance a major drilling round at its flagship Barryroe oil and gas field, off the Cork coast, next year. However, earlier this year Providence formed an affiliate business Providence Renewables DAC to look at geothermal energy projects and ways of transforming boiling water under the sea bed into renewable electricity. Speaking after Providence’s agm in Dublin this week, chief executive Tony O’Reilly Jr said while the group is planning a strategic review of all its assets and divisions, development of the renewables arm remains some time off, and not just due to the overall company’s current financial restrictions. “Geothermal energy is really interesting. The problem is there’s got to be some legislative frameworks put in place to be able to do things like that; likewise around carbon sequestration. “I’d be interested in the long term, but we’re many years away before having actual legislation to allow these things to happen. So, will it be short-term, probably not, but you never know,” Mr O’Reilly said. Providence said, back in February, that it has already been approached by companies – mainly in the service equipment, power generation and engineering areas – interested in forming a joint-venture around the renewables project. However, Providence was not keen to progress it at such an early stage. It was also reported, at that time, that Providence could ultimately seek a separate IPO for the renewables arm or sell the division entirely. Mr O’Reilly said he still believes in the Irish offshore, but said enough wells haven’t been drilled over the years in order to truly test Ireland’s resources potential. He said he hoped any change of Government in the next 12 months would not lead to a block to drilling plans at Barryroe. “Oil and gas is still the mainstay of energy supply in this country and will continue to be; maybe the mix will change and more gas will be used. But, why any government would turn its back on the development of its own natural resources is beyond me. We’re stlll going to need oil and gas; [we’re saying] shop local, don’t buy international,” he said. Mr O’Reilly said, this week, that he expects the long-awaited initial €8m in Barryroe funding by the September 30 payment deadline. However, he said that planned drilling at the field is unlikely to now commence before “well into 2020”.

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Absence Of Legislative Framework Proves Major Hurdle For Geothermal Development in Ireland

With a lack of a legislative framework for geothermal exploration in Ireland and development and likely other reasons as well, Irish hydrocarbon exploration company Providence Resources puts geothermal plans on hold. The company had considered an offshore project.

Irish hydrocarbon exploration company Providence Resources puts geothermal plans on hold as reported by the Irish Examiner last week. CEO Tony O’Reilly Jr stated that one of the main reason was the absence of a geothermal legislative framework. Speaking after Providence’s AGM in Dublin last week Tony O’Reilly Jr said: “Geothermal energy is really interesting. The problem is there’s got to be some legislative frameworks put in place to be able to do things like that; likewise around carbon sequestration …. I’d be interested in the long term, but we’re many years away before having actual legislation to allow these things to happen. ” Providence Resources founded its renewable business division Providence Renewables DAC as an adjunct to its chief business of oil and gas exploration, with a partial focus on geothermal energy exploitation from offshore Irish licences. News site reported last year December on the conceptual plans for geothermal exploitation in the area Dunquin North, off the coast of western Ireland. It stated that Providence Resources, was looking for oil in this area, but found only residual amounts. The possibility to produce geothermal heat presented new opportunities to exploit subsurface resources in that area, according to the site. Development of Irish legislative and regulatory frameworks have been discussed since 2008, according to the 2019 Ireland country update that was published on the European Geothermal Conference in Den Haag last June. The article further states that draft Heads of the Bill were already completed in July 2010 and have been submitted to the Government for approval. In addition, the Department Communication Climate Action & Environment White Paper ‘Ireland’s Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030’ makes provisions for the establishment of a regulatory framework to facilitate geothermal exploitation and exploration.
We thank Cees Willems of the University of Glasgow for the article.

Ballinskellgs Bay, County Kerry, Ireland

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How North Sea Technology Can Cut Emissions

The North Sea industry and supply chain has many of the technologies needed to help cut emissions.

IF Scotland is to reach its net zero emissions target of 2050, the attention of scientists and researchers must turn to below the surface of the earth, experts say. Advances and investment in geothermal energy, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) are “critical” to moving the UK towards its target, according to a report published in Petroleum Geoscience. Researchers from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, have said the North Sea already has the technology and supply chain in place for CCS to take place. Professor Sebastian Geiger, director of Heriot-Watt University’s Institute for GeoEnergy Engineering, said: “Carbon capture and storage, combined with oil and gas production or hydrogen generation, can create almost carbon neutral energy supplies. It is an essential component to provide energy security while we transition to a low-carbon energy future. “The North Sea industry and supply chain already has many of the technologies we need to make CCS a reality and our institute has been active in CCS research for nearly 20 years. Now what’s required is large-scale demonstrations so we can build the business case for CCS. “Energy firms around the world are committing many millions of pounds into making CCS reality, and it’s essential the UK isn’t left behind.”
Professor Mike Stephenson, chief scientist, decarbonisation and resource management at BGS, said: “If we want to reach net-zero by 2050, we need to focus on increasing our knowledge of the subsurface of the UK. “Geothermal energy, carbon capture and storage and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage are the three technologies that could get the UK towards net zero.” The Natural Environment Research Council commissioned the £31million UK Geoenergy Observatories, which are under way in Glasgow, Cardiff and Cheshire. These observatories are said to be a huge step forward and will help researchers and geologists understand the subsurface in detail that hasn’t been possible before. Mr Stephenson added: “We need more large-scale pilot and demonstrations of geothermal, CCS and BECCS so we can make rapid advances in these fields.” He went on to warn that before progress can be made in decarbonisation and the three technologies with the most potential, scientists need to advance their understanding of the UK’s subsurface. He said: “Earlier this year, about 100 geoscientists gathered in London to discuss decarbonisation. One of the most fundamental challenges we identified was the need to characterise the UK’s subsurface. “For the hydrogen economy to advance, we need to understand the properties of the deep rock salt that will be used to store the gas. If we want to store carbon dioxide, we need to map and characterise sandstone. “We need to know how gases and fluids flow through or are contained in these rocks so we can start identifying new sites where these technologies could be installed. “Decarbonisation needs the right combination of geological advantages, and in some parts of the country, clusters have already formed. “In the north-west of England, for example, there is the potential for offshore CCS, salt for hydrogen storage and some geothermal potential, next to many industries that need to get rid of carbon dioxide. This is an area we could focus our research to maximise advances in decarbonisation techniques.” The report was compiled following the 2019 Bryan Lovell conference organised by the Geological Society. Society president Nick Rogers said “Across the UK, geoscientists are working to address the challenges posed by the need to transition to low-carbon energy sources and meet UK targets for net-zero emissions. “By bringing together knowledge of subsurface structural characteristics, fluid flow, and geochemistry, they will be able to support and drive forward efforts to ensure the energy security and independence of the UK, while minimising the environmental impacts of energy generation.” Work at Glasgow’s geothermal research observatory began last December and work on all 12 boreholes, in Dalmarnock, in the east end, and Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, are expected to be completed this autumn. One of the research aims is to investigate the potential for untapped mine water to be harnessed as geothermal energy that could be used to heat more than 180 million homes, according to the Coal Authority. Measurements will be taken from the underground observatory boreholes such as temperature, water movement and water chemistry over the period. Environmental baseline monitoring of near-surface chemistry, gases and waters will also be measured and all data gathered is open to be accessed by scientists, governments, regulatory bodies and members of the public. Researchers will observe the flooded mine workings beneath the east end by monitoring the network of boreholes and seeing how warm water moves around the abandoned mine workings over time, monitoring changes in the chemistry and to the physical and microbiological properties of the environment just below the surface. To generate the geothermal heating, water will be pumped from the mines through a heat exchanger and then pumped back underground. Alison Monaghan, geologist and science team lead for the Glasgow Observatory, said: “There were lots of mines in the area and one of the questions the project is trying to answer is if this colliery is still connected to lots of others still underground. “We hope to find out the size of the resource when we drill them. The areas of coal fields were not continuous but are over tens of kilometres and we could potentially be getting a window into a big area or we might not be – until we drill we don’t know.”

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Technical Update – Dunquin North Geothermal Assessment

Providence Resources P.l.c., the Irish based Energy Company, today provides a technical update regarding its ongoing geothermal resource assessment of the Dunquin North Lower Cretaceous carbonate build-up.  Dunquin North is situated in Frontier Exploration Licence (“FEL”) 3/04 in the southern Porcupine Basin, offshore Ireland.

Providence’s Technical Director, Dr. John O’Sullivan, will present a paper on the company’s latest assessment of Dunquin North’s geothermal resource potential at the American Association of Petroleum Geologist’s (“AAPG”) 3rd Hydrocarbon Geothermal Crossover Workshop in Geneva this afternoon. 

A copy of this presentation is available for download on the Company’s website at

Providence Resources P.l.c. Tel: +353 1 219 4074
Tony O’Reilly, Chief Executive Officer  
Dr. John O’Sullivan, Technical Director   
Cenkos Securities plc Tel: +44 131 220 9771 
Neil McDonald/Derrick Lee  
J&E Davy Tel: +353 1 679 6363 
Anthony Farrell   
Mirabaud Securities Limited Tel: + 44 20 3167 7221
Peter Krens  
Powerscourt Tel: +44 207 250 1446 
Peter Ogden  
Murray Consultants Tel: +353 1 498 0300 
Pauline McAlester  

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Providence’s New Eco Arm To Target Greenhouse Gas

PROVIDENCE Resources has set up a new company focused on renewables projects, potentially including capturing carbon dioxide from power stations and burying it under the sea bed. The company has also been working on a project in the area of “geothermal” energy, which is derived from the heat under the planet’s surface. An entity entitled Providence Renewables Designated Activity Company has been established, according to documents filed at the Companies Registration Office. Providence technical director John O’Sullivan said the company was looking at a potential carbon capture (or carbon sequestration) project off the south coast, where the Kinsale Head gas field is due to be decommissioned over the next couple of years. State body Ervia has said that the area under the sea bed from which the Kinsale Gas was extracted could be used to store carbon once the natural gas is gone. However, Providence’s geothermal project – although still a long way from fruition – is more advanced. As part of a previous drilling programme the company discovered billions of barrels of boiling water under the sea bed, where it gets heated by its proximity to the earth’s crust. The boiling water is located off the south-west coast in an area known as the Porcupine Basin. Providence is examining whether electricity could be created by installing a so-called “heat exchanger” on the sea bed. The boiling water would be pumped up to the sea bed, and then into the exchanger. Once there, the heat in the water would cause a separate fluid in the heat exchanger to expand. That expansion would power a turbine, generating electricity to be sent back to shore. The water would then be pumped down again into the reservoir from which it came – meaning the electricity would be renewable. “It is a complementary adjunct to our business, which is oil and gas. There are some really good emerging supports out there,” said Mr O’Sullivan. The project has also attracted interest from a number of industry players. Mr O’Sullivan said Providence has discovered a “couple of other targets” around the Porcupine basin, and that this could create a “cluster development for a big offshore geothermal project.” Setting up the renewables arm as a separate company gives Providence the chance to spin it out, for example as a separate listed company, if it achieves scale. Mr O’Sullivan said there were no plans for a move like that at the moment, however.

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Oil Explorer Could Strike It Rich After Finding Hot Water In Sea

Irish oil and gas explorer Providence Resources is evaluating whether it can generate electricity from billions of barrels of boiling water under the sea bed. The green energy project would be revolutionary for the Irish energy sector – the first large scale example of its type here, with Ireland well behind on meeting its carbon emissions targets. The boiling water is located 3,000 metres below the sea bed, at a location where it gets heated by its proximity to the earth’s crust. The project would be a type of “geothermal” energy – energy derived from the heat under the surface of the planet. A number of significant players in the geothermal energy sector have expressed an interest in the idea and are due to travel to Ireland next month to discuss how it could be progressed beyond the research stage. The boiling water is located in an area of the Porcupine Basin off the south west coast of Ireland. Providence Resources, run by Tony O’Reilly jr, was looking for oil there in an area known as Dunquin North, but found only residual amounts. However the presence of the boiling water presents the opportunity to generate energy in a different manner. One option is to install a so-called “heat exchanger” on the sea bed. The boiling water would be pumped up to the sea bed, and then into the exchanger. Once there, the heat in the water would cause a separate fluid in the heat exchanger to expand. That expansion would power a turbine, generating the electricity to be sent back to shore. The water would then be pumped down again into the reservoir from which it came – meaning the electricity would be renewable. The project is an example of how oil and gas companies have the potential to diversify into renewable areas, with the boiling water having been discovered by oil and gas exploration techniques. The project has a long way to go before becoming a reality however, given that it is at the research stage. The company would probably need to bring in a partner to get the project up and running on a commercial basis. John O’Sullivan, Providence’s technical director, said in a social media post that the boiling water is about 275km from a grid connection in the Shannon estuary on the west coast. He said the company was trying to see how it could extract the energy in a way that would mean it wasn’t intermittent – like for example wind energy where the power generated depends on the wind. “I think sometimes these are the alternative and maybe difficult types of questions which we need to challenge ourselves with,” the post said. Nearby, at an area called Dunquin South, Providence is set to drill a well alongside partners ENI, Repsol and Sosina. It plans a site survey for the prospect next year, with the well potentially coming the year after in 2020. But for most observers in the market the key Providence project is off the Cork coast at a prospect known as Barryroe. After a years-long, torturous process, the company has finally found a partner to help it try and get oil out of the ground there. There is oil at the prospect, but the question is whether it can be extracted in a commercial fashion. The partner is a Chinese consortium which has committed to drilling as many as seven wells at the project. The project has recently run into a delay however, after An Taisce challenged planning permission Providence got for a site survey at Barryroe. An Taisce, an environmental charity which gets State funding, said it wanted a judicial review of the way in which Providence received the permission. Providence said it would apply for fresh permission for the survey early in 2019, with the start of drilling set to be pushed back to the third quarter of the year rather than the second, assuming all went as planned. Earlier this year Sean Canney, the minister of state in charge of natural resources, indicated the Government would block efforts by opposition politicians to ban new exploration licences. He said the bill wouldn’t reduce current oil and gas usage, and make us reliant on imports for future oil or gas needs. With technology the way it is, those needs are likely to remain substantial for some time.
But if one day we manage to live in an oil-and-gas-free world, Providence’s geothermal project shows how oil and gas explorers might be able to reinvent themselves.

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The deep sea energy park: Harvesting hydrothermal energy for seabed exploration

Parada, Jorge, Feng, Xiangbo, Hauerhof, Elena, Suzuki, Ryosuke and Abubakar, Usman , Shenoi, R.A., Wilson, P.A. and Bennett, S.S. (eds.)(2012) The deep sea energy park: harvesting hydrothermal energy for seabed exploration, vol. 3, Southampton, GB. University of Southampton, 128pp. (The LRET Collegium 2012 Series: Seabed Exploitation, 3)

Book publication


Modern society is in growing need of natural resources. Energy security remains one of the greatest challenges that we face. We need increasing amounts of energy, but it is no longer acceptable to supply it at the expense of the environment. In the coming years we will continue our struggle to innovate and discover new sources of clean, cheap and reliable energy. The ocean has vast resources that could contribute to solving our energy needs.

The evolution of the energy market in the coming 50 years requires innovation, strong international cooperation and moderation from consumers. This volume in The LRET collection on seabed exploitation will explore some opportunities of meeting these challenges. The seabed, defined here as the bottom of the ocean, has rich natural reserves including energy, solid minerals, and biogenic resources. Using a scenario planning approach, we determine that energy exploitation from the seabed has the greatest short- and long-term potential.

This volume explores the technological challenges in exploiting the seabed as a source of energy. We show two scenarios exploring an evolution-based strategy for maturing technology needed in seabed energy exploitation. The first is a conservative scenario that imagines the business as usual outcome towards greenhouse gas emissions policy. In this outcome, we imagine the growth of energy technology in ocean research, exploration and prospection. The second scenario explores the outcome of an aggressive policy and integration outcome, reflecting the IEA 450 Scenario. In this outcome, the growth of seabed energy technology derives from offshore geothermal or hydrothermal energy.

Finally, this volume shows the design of a novel application for power generation from the seabed. The system is an Autonomous Observation Node, designed for ocean research, exploration and prospection. Our novel approach for collecting power from the hydrothermal vent fields implements thermoelectric generators. We show preliminary design options, either tapping a temperature gradient directly from the plumes of a hydrothermal vent, or using high-pressure thermosyphons installed in a well on the hydrothermal mounds. These alternatives can provide clean and reliable power with less environmental impact on the surrounding ecosystem. The system design shown in this volume considers the most conservative scenario of growth for energy in the seabed exploitation industry.

We leave the reader with some thoughts. Although the ocean covers approximately 71% of our planet, much of its reserves are yet undiscovered. Any prospect of resource exploitation remains limited by our lack of understanding of the fundamental processes that shape and transform the ocean. Therefore, we need affordable and reliable technology to facilitate long-term scientific observation and exploration of the ocean.

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