Full steam ahead for geothermal well

Panax Geothermal produced the first steam from drilling at its pioneering Salamander-1 well in the Otway Basin near Penola in South Australia in April.

Panax Geothermal managing director, Dr Bertus de Graaf said the company had successfully completed a short flow test at Salamander-1 in an important step in establishing Australia’s first geothermal reserves.

“A significant amount of steam was released after production flows to surface reached boiling point temperatures of 100° Celsius,” Dr de Graaf said.

“At this stage, it is too early to draw any conclusions on the quality of the reservoir but completion of the scheduled short flow test brings the Penola project one further step closer to the establishment of Australia’s first geothermal reserves.

“Salamander-1 is on track to reach its targets and the advancement of geothermal energy as a major power source in Australia is on its way to becoming a reality.”

Dr de Graaf said data collected during the short flow test will be evaluated and interpreted in combination with the well log data collected following completion of drilling in mid-March.

“An extended flow test is scheduled to be carried out in mid-May, 2010,” he said.

“Both tests were designed by Sinclair Knight Merz New Zealand and endorsed by geothermal consultants GeothermEx USA to collect the necessary data required for the establishment of geothermal reserves.”

Dr de Graaf said the progression of Salamander-1, coupled with its proximity to the national electricity transmission grid, meant Panax had one of the few renewable energy projects in the country capable of powering thousands of homes without requiring costly new grid connections.

“Panax is clearly at the forefront of the geothermal market in Australia and it is also the closest to achieving commercialisation of base load geothermal energy,” he said.

According to Dr de Graaf, an independently reviewed pre-feasibility study has shown the project has the potential to generate cheap baseload, clean energy with the company planning to have a demonstration power plant in operation by 2011.

Dr de Graaf said further expansion could lead to a geothermal power station more than 10 times larger by 2014.