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Investigating Compromises Between Performance and Carbon Footprint – Drilling Fluid Applications For Enhanced Geothermal Systems: A Case Study
Energy transition is creating ways to replace our conventional power generation sources with more sustainable and environmental friendly alternatives. In order to meet net-zero emission target the countries are ramping up their energy transition projects and global economies will see a dramatic change in market distribution of current energy mix by 2030 (Rystad Energy,2022) .Geothermal market is a vital tool for countries and companies navigating the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable resources. Deep low enthalpy reservoirs are creating new frontiers in geothermal energy with the development of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS). Drilling and completion fluids plays an integral part in the life cycle of building of geothermal energy. Geothermal wells emits around 38g CO2 eq. per Kwh (IPCC, 2021).
The paper uses output from a series of engineering tools to investigate if actively reducing the emission profile of a drilling fluid system designed for EGS operations impacts or compromises performance. The evaluation compares the operational lifecycle of a typical Water based mud (WBM) versus a High performance water based mud (HPWBM) for an EGS drilling program and the associated emissions profiles. Cradle to gate analysis helps in emission tracking, monitoring and product optimization of geothermal drilling fluids. The ESG engineering tool used in profiling the drilling fluid systems enables a rapid and simple estimate of the environmental performances of an EGS drilling and completion well operations. When coupled with a drilling fluid hydraulics engineering design tool, the paired outputs provide a clear an east to access evaluation for the stakeholders of the EGS sector and for decision & policy makers. The paper aims at contributing to the debate about engineering design and performance in this new emerging technology and its related environmental impacts.