Completion Design Considerations for a Horizontal Enhanced Geothermal System

Jeffrey Olson, Alfred Eustes, William Fleckenstein, Erdinc Eker, Reed Baker, Chad Augustine

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

7 Scopus Citations


The petroleum industry has had considerable success in recent decades in developing unconventional shale plays using horizontal drilling and multi-zonal isolation and stimulation techniques to fracture tight formations to enable the commercial production of oil and gas. Similar well completions could be used in Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) to create multiple fractures from horizontal wells. This study assesses whether well completion techniques used in the unconventional shale industry to create multi-stage fractures can be applied to an enhanced geothermal system, with a focus on the completion of the EGS injection well. This study assumes an Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) consisting of a central horizontal injection well flanked on each side by horizontal production wells, connected to the injection well by multiple fractures. The focus is on the design and completion of the horizontal well. For the purpose of developing design criteria, a reservoir temperature of 200°C (392°F) and an injection well flow rate of 87,000 barrels per day (160 kg/s), corresponding to production well flow rates of 43,500 barrels per day (80 kg/s) is assumed. The analysis found that 9-5/8" 53.5 pounds per foot (ppf) P110 casing string with premium connections meets all design criteria for the horizontal section of injection well. A P110 grade is fairly common and is often used in horizontal sections of shale development wells in petroleum operations. Next, several zonal isolation systems commonly used in the shale gas industry were evaluated. Three techniques were evaluated - a "plug and perf" design, a "sand and perf" design, and a "packer and port" design. A plug and perf system utilizes a cemented casing throughout the length of the injector wellbore. The sand and perf system is identical to the plug and perf system, but replaces packers with sand placed in the casing after stimulation to screen out the stimulated perforated zones and provide zonal isolation. The packer and port completion approach utilizes an open horizontal hole that zonally isolates areas through the use of external packers and a liner. A review of technologies used in these systems was performed to determine if commercially available equipment from the petroleum industry could be used at the temperatures, pressures, and sizes encountered in geothermal settings. The study found no major technical barriers to employing shale gas multi-zonal completion techniques in a horizontal well in a geothermal setting for EGS development. For all techniques considered, temperature limitations of equipment are a concern. Commercially available equipment designed to operate at the high temperatures encountered in geothermal systems are available, but is generally unproven for geothermal applications. Based on the study, further evaluation of adapting oil and gas completion techniques to EGS is warranted.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2015
Event39th Geothermal Resources Council Annual Meeting - Geothermal: Always On, GRC 2015 - Reno, United States
Duration: 20 Sep 201523 Sep 2015


Conference39th Geothermal Resources Council Annual Meeting - Geothermal: Always On, GRC 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-6A20-64204


  • Casing
  • Cementing
  • Completions
  • ECS
  • Horizontal
  • Zonal isolation


Dive into the research topics of 'Completion Design Considerations for a Horizontal Enhanced Geothermal System'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this