Hot Rock steams ahead in Victoria

HOT Rock Limited says it is moving rapidly from an early exploration to preproduction stage, and has signed a contract with Quantec Geoscience to complete a 250-station magnetotelluric (MT) survey over its geothermal permits in the Otway Basin, southwest Victoria.

Hot Rock has four tenements covering what it says are the most prospective areas of the Otway Basin for commercial development of hot wet geothermal resources.

The company decided to proceed with the survey in Geothermal Exploration Permit GEP-8 following the successful MT trial in the Koroit project area last year.

The Koroit Project Area in GEP-8 has been selected for accelerated development and a production appraisal test well is programmed for drilling after completion of the MT survey, which will be used to determine an optimal location for the production test well.

Following drilling and successful flow testing of the production appraisal well, Hot Rock plans to install and a commercial scale pilot power to be commissioned in late 2009.

"Hot Rock has been in detailed discussions with a drilling contractor and a power plant manufacturer," the company said.

"A large drilling rig is in the process of being contracted to commence drilling in early 2009. It is anticipated that a suitable 1 megaWatt capacity binary cycle geothermal power plant should be available for delivery in Q3 2009."

The survey will provide specific information on the subsurface hydrology of the geothermal fluids and would be combined with the results of the seismic and structural geological re-evaluation work to develop the location for the drilling of the test production appraisal well, Hot Rock said.

According to Hot Rock, the MT survey is expected to start in early May, when the company's operations plan has been approved by the Victorian Department of Primary Industries.

A second 50-station MT survey is planned to test a second major target in GEP-6.

"We are seeking hot wet geothermal resources that can be developed at lower cost than hot dry rock geothermal resources, as they contain in-site reservoir water, are naturally permeable and are exploitable at shallower drilling depths," managing director Mark Elliot said.

According to the company, previous oil and gas drilling in the Otway Basin to depths of up to 3500m had recorded temperatures as high as 143C.

Elliot said temperatures of more than 120C could be commercially viable for geothermal electricity generation, depending on well productivity, drilling depths and production pumping requirements.

The MT surveys will take about eight weeks to complete.


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