Geothermal Power Potential of the Virginia Hills Oil Field, Part of the Swan Hills Carbonate Complex; Alberta, Canada

Jonathan Banks, Cees Willems, Anders Cowper, Kabir Nadkarni, Spencer Poulette, Calvin van Allen

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Exploitation of hydrocarbon resources throughout the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin has been accompanied by the production of trillions of cubic meters of aqueous fluids, i.e. brines, which are either recirculated to maintain reservoir pressure, or reinjected in far-flung disposal wells. Basin-wide, these brines carry petawatts of thermal power to the Earth’s surface. Socio-economic demand for renewable power, coupled with recent advances in low-enthalpy waste heat recovery, has led to increasing interest from oil field operators in geothermal co-production. This paper explores the potential scale of geothermal co-production from an oil-producing pinnacle reef in the Swan Hills Complex of central Alberta, Canada. In this study, we combine geospatial, hydrogeological, and thermodynamic data to build reservoir volume-based model of the Virginia Hills field. We analyze the effects of variable temperature, porosity, thermal recovery factor and engine efficiency on the geothermal power potential of this reservoir on individual well-head scale and for exploitation of the entire oil field. Ranges of potential input variables where compiled from data available through licensed servers of geoSCOUT and data made available directly from Razor Energy. Uncertainty in the data is accounted for through use of Monte Carlo simulations in executing the volumetric assessments. On a wellhead level, the average production potential is 0.6 MWth and 0.1 MWe. Scaled-up to reflect the 190 suspended wells in the field yields a total potential of ~115 MWth and 16 MWe. When a reservoir volume-based assessment method is applied to a 25-year production period, the field’s mean power potential is ~MWth and 28 MWe. Results from this case study form an example of the overall potential of geothermal co-production from oil-producing pinnacle reefs in the Swan Hills Complex in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2020
EventWorld Geothermal Congress 2020+1 - Reykjavik, Iceland
Duration: 1 Apr 202130 Nov 2021


ConferenceWorld Geothermal Congress 2020+1


  • Geothermal energy
  • co-production
  • Carbonate
  • Organic Rankine cycle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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