Staged Asset Deployment – Commercial and Technical Advantages of Using a Wellhead
By Mike Long, Ramesh Raman – POWER Engineers
and William Harvey – Dept. Of Mechanical Engineering, Reykjavik University, Iceland
The typical geothermal development schedule for new fields may span five to ten years. Managing the cash flow for these enterprises, which demand considerable up-front exploration and drilling investments far before economical financing is available or generation can become commercial, can be challenging. Wellhead generation units can offer multiple benefits: provide an early cash flow to offset development costs, offset diesel engine fuel costs for drilling rigs, mitigate risk on the resource assessment by allowing longer-term flow tests, and set the stage for the development of larger, more efficient power plants to be operated long term. In this paper we present a financial evaluation of a standard six-year development plan,
considering the insertion of a wellhead unit at the appropriate stage of development. We conduct this evaluation at a high level based on general assumptions; site-specific characteristics would require a more diligent evaluation based on local conditions such as tax implications, funding options, ownership structure(s), depreciation, resale, etc. We present a number of technical options for wellhead units, including backpressure turbines,
condensing units, binary units, and surplus equipment, and compare their relative merits. The transition to the longterm power station is discussed. A number of case studies of successful implementation in countries such as Mexico, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica are presented with these dicsussions.
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