Klamath Basin Geopower may begin drilling by end of year

OLENE – Despite delays, Klamath Basin Geopower plans to move ahead with drilling a second geothermal well in the Olene Gap area, possibly this year.

Bill Honjas, Klamath Basin Geopower president and CEO, said the company had hoped drilling would begin by last June but is running behind schedule. Depending on when a drilling permit is approved by the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, he said drilling could begin this fall or next spring.

Earlier this year the company finished the first well that reached a depth of about 6,000 feet and measured temperatures exceeding 280 degrees off Crystal Springs Road. Honjas said the well can produce up to 2,800 gallons per minute, or about 6.5 gross megawatts of geothermal power.

Additional wells are needed to eventually power a 21-megawatt power production facility. Based on average estimates, each megawatt provides enough power for about 1,000 single-family homes. If power is produced, it can be distributed to markets in Oregon and California from power switching stations, according to Honjas.

A surveyor has been in the Olene Gap area, laying out areas where seismic surveys will be done to determine the best drilling site. The seismic survey, which involves placing sound sensors along a predetermined route, could begin within days. Data from the seismic signal will be processed to create underground maps.

“Based on the seismic sections and other information we have gathered, KGB will then decide where to drill exploration wells,” Honjas said, noting the evaluation process could take several months.

Depending on the time needed to complete the seismic studies and evaluate the data, Honjas said drilling could begin this fall or might be delayed until next spring.

“It was really tough drilling in the middle of winter,” he said of last year’s drilling. “Based on the last well it should take 30 or 40 days, no more.”

Depending on water volumes and temperatures, several wells may be needed before production begins.

“Drilling is always the biggest risk in geothermal development,” Honjas said, noting the company uses advanced software to process data collected from seismic surveys. “I wouldn’t spend another $7 million if I wasn’t optimistic.”