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Herald And News: Second Production Well Planned For Olene Geothermal Project

Drilling for a second geothermal production well in the Olene Gap area near Klamath Falls is expected to begin next month.

Bill Honjas, president and CEO of Klamath Basin Geopower, the company developing a network of commercial geothermal production wells, said construction of the pad and site are complete ,and drilling should begin in March. Drilling will take about two or three months.

The previous well, near Crystal Springs Road in the Olene Gap area, reached hot water with temperatures capable of generating electrical power commercially at a depth of about 6,000 feet.

Honjas said independent testing of the well indicates both water flow and temperatures necessary for commercially generated electricity were confirmed. The report from the well concludes fluid temperatures in the production zone are from 250 to 320 degrees Fahrenheit.

“This first well is designed to produce up to 1,500 gallons per minute,” Honjas said. “Even at 250 degrees, that would be good for a four megawatt well. (Based on average estimates, each megawatt provides enough power for about 1,000 single-family homes.) “Obviously, if we reached the upper end of the report estimate, it would equate to more power.”

Honjas said research “shows that our first well, the discovery well, is by far the hottest geothermal well in Klamath County. It is the very first flowing well with temperatures for producing geothermal energy with present power generation technology. We believe there has never been a 285-degree well in the county and are very satisfied with the results.”

Honjas said the company hopes to build a commercial-grade power plant for a minimum 12-megawatt power production facility with a goal of 20 to 25 megawatts. He predicts the power plant will be online by 2017, saying, “It might be earlier, but it won’t be later.”

During the construction phase, he said more than a hundred people will be employed. Once in operation, he predicted the facility would employ 20 people full-time directly and indirectly. Gastaldi Excavating of Klamath Falls again will handle the well pad construction. Paul Graham Drilling Services, the company that drilled Klamath Basin Geopower’s first well, is drilling the new well. The work is being monitored with the Klamath Tribes to be sure no archeological sites are impacted.

“We learned a lot scientifically from the last well,” Honjas said, noting, “The first well is always the riskiest. We tested a lot of geologic theories. We now know precisely which structures are producing the hottest fluids, and we are directly targeting those structures.”

Although reluctant to share specific figures, he estimates Klamath Basin Geopower has injected more than $5 million into the Basin economy over the past five years through lease payments to landowners, construction work, purchases of fuel and groceries, rental fees and pay to employees.

“We hope it’s just the beginning,” he said.

Along with the ongoing geothermal development in the Olene Gap area, Honjas said the company hopes to develop other projects in the Henley and Swan Lake areas.