Iceland Deep Drilling Project

The main purpose of the IDDP project is to find out if it is economically feasible to extract energy and chemicals out of hydrothermal systems at supercritical conditions. To study the supercritical hydrous fluid, an advanced drilling technology needs to be applied and a novel fluid handling and evaluation system designed. The improvement of this basic idea by the IDDP is to drill deep enough into the roots of a conventional high temperature hydrothermal system to produce water at supercritical conditions and bring it to the surface as 400-600°C superheated steam, at subcritical pressures (<220 bar). In the case of low permeability systems, by injecting cold fluid into the hot rocks, fractures can be induced to complete the thermal mining cycle.


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The IDDP was founded in the year 2000 by a consortium of three Icelandic energy companies: (Hitaveita Sudurnesja (HS) (since 2008: HS Orka hf), Landsvirkjun (LV) and Orkuveita Reykjavíkur (OR)), and Orkustofnun (OS), the National Energy Authority of Iceland. The consortium began by preparing the drilling of a 4-5 km deep drill hole into one of its high-temperature hydrothermal system in order to reach 400-600°C hot supercritical hydrous fluid at a rifted plate margin on a mid-ocean ridge. A feasibility report was completed in 2003. The IDDP is a long term research and development project which will take a decade or two to conclude. As yet, IDDP is therefore not an alternative solution to meet energy demand in the near or intermediate future.

ICDP (International Continental Scientific Drilling Program) granted financial supports to organize the scientific program. A start-upmeeting was held in Reykjavík in June 2001, and two workshops were held at Nesjavellir in 2002, the earlier on drilling technology in March, the latter in October on science. As a result of this IDDP received approximately 60 research proposals from the international scientific community, which ranged from petrology and petrophysics to fluid chemistry, water rock reactions, surface and borehole geophysics and reservoir modelling. More than half of these proposals require drill core samples.

In 2003 a decision was reached to drill the first IDDP candidate well at Reykjanes. The first IDDP candidate well, RN-17, was drilled at Reykjanes in 2004-2005 down to 3082 m depth by HS. In 2005 funding for drilling the first IDDP well to 5 km depth at Reykjanes was secured by the energy consortium, together with ICDP and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) which will participate in funding core drilling for scientific research. Unfortunately, this 3 km deep well of opportunity at Reykjanes became blocked during a production test in November 2005, and after attempts failed to recondition it, the well had to be abandoned in February 2006. Later the same year IDDP decided to move to the Krafla high temperature field in NE-Iceland, to attempt drilling a full size IDDP well into supercritical conditions, a well that was later identified as well IDDP-1. Alcoa Inc, an international aluminum company, joined IDDP consortium as funding partner in 2007, and StatoilHydro ASA (now Statoil), a Norwegian oil company, joined the consortium in 2008. For historical review until 2010 see: 3902 Fridleifsson et al.


Scope of work
Establish if it is feasible to extract energy and chemicals out of hydrothermal systems at supercritical conditions.
IDDP-1 well at Krafla in 2009
2.1 km depth; Temperature measured at 330°C; 16,5 bar-g pressure; 30 kg/s superheated steam; Penetrated molten rock.
IDDP-2 well at Reykjanes in 2016
4,7 km depth; Temperature measured at 427°C; Fluid pressure of 340 bars; Fluids at supercritical conditions; Drill cores appear to be permeable at depth; Drilling for 176 days.

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IDDP Consortium

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