OLENE – Construction of a test geothermal well near Olene has started.

Earlier this week, crews from Chancellor Drilling installed a conductor casing that will be used to drill a larger well. Drilling of the well is expected to begin late next week or mid-month, according to Bill Honjas, president and CEO of Klamath Basin Geopower, the project developer.

“It’s important to let everybody know it’s a 30- to 45-day process,” Honjas said. The upcoming deep well drilling will be done 24 hours a day, seven days a week until completed. He said the drilling will create higher than normal noise levels and noted the site off Crystal Springs Road will be lighted at night.

“Yes, it’s industrial and it’s loud, but it’s temporary and the site will be restored. We want to be good neighbors,” he said of the drilling, noting upwards of 20 people will be working at the site at any given time.

More than $6M investment

Honjas said the company will have invested more than $6 million in four geothermal projects east of Klamath Falls after the first well is drilled. He expects the test well will go down to a depth between 4,000 and 6,000 feet.

If the test well is successful, the company plans to drill four more wells to provide enough geothermal resources to develop a 20-megawatt power production plant. He said the company’s goal is to have five production wells drilled at the present project in 2013. Based on average estimates, each megawatt provides enough power for about 1,000 homes.

Project may be re-evaluated

If the well is not successful, Honjas said he and company officials will re-evaluate the project.

He said Klamath Basin Geopower has leased 22,000 acres of private lands encompassing four projects between the Swan Lake and Henley area, including the 2,500-acre project being developed in the Olene region. If the Olene project succeeds, he said a series of 20-megawatt power plants are envisioned between Henley and Swan Lake.

During the ongoing and upcoming drill, to prevent possible traffic problems on Crystal Springs Road, Honjas suggests people wanting to watch the drilling park at the Olene Store on Highway 140.

“The folks at the Olene Store have plenty of good coffee and parking. It’s a great place to enjoy the drilling,” Honjas said.

The drilling is being done on land owned by Sydney Giacomini adjacent to Crystal Springs Road. Honjas said land used at the drilling site will be mostly restored to pasture once the work is completed.

“We definitely don’t want people stopping on Crystal Springs Road,” he said. “We welcome people viewing from a safe distance.”