Date of Award

January 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Geological Engineering

First Advisor

William D. Gosnold


Repurposing directional drilled Bakken oil wells to utilize ORC technology for electrical power generation is uneconomical for co-produced fluid in current active oil and gas fields in the Williston Basin. Geothermal power generation requires three crucial factors: heat source, sufficient and sustainable flow rate, and efficient binary technology. This feasibility study focuses on evaluating geothermal co-production fluid for current Sanish, Parshall, and Banks Bakken multi-wells pads. The wells lie within a 2.5-mile (4 km) radius within each field and extend to depths of 9,900 to 11,000 ft. (3 - 3.5 km). Within a 2.5-mile radius area, there are several multi-well pads. Geological parameters were evaluated for each well to determine the fluid flow rate, heat transport, and formation temperatures. The study areas contain the highest number of horizontally drilled wells in the Bakken Formation. The oil fields produce fluid from a low permeability range of 0.05 to 0.2 millidarcies (mD), porosity between 0 and 10%, and rocks at a low flow rate of 0.4 to 0.6 liters/second (l/s). Thermal models of heat loss from the vertical sections of the wells show that the flow rate is too slow to yield adequate temperatures for electrical power production. However, a new alternative approach could produce sufficient temperatures and flow rates for hundreds of MW (Megawatts) of power. That approach would be to drill horizontal open-hole water wells into the deeper Deadwood and Red River Formations. These more permeable formations can yield a significant amount of fluid at approximately 50 l/s or higher at temperatures greater than 150 C.

Available for download on Wednesday, December 16, 2020