A Preliminary Feasibility Study of Geothermal and Mineral Extraction Applications of Hydrocarbon Wells

Open Access
Brown, Daniel Paul
Graduate Program:
Energy and Mineral Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
February 18, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Antonio Nieto, Thesis Advisor
  • Serguei Lvov, Thesis Advisor
  • Jeremy Michael Gernand, Thesis Advisor
  • Geothermal
  • Mineral Extraction
  • Feasibility
  • Marcellus Shale
  • Renewable Energy
Oil and gas production technology has steadily evolved over the past 150 years. As commodities, oil and gas play important roles in both US and worldwide markets and are often viewed as critical economic drivers and assessment tools of the marketplace. Even though almost all local communities are in some way dependent upon oil and gas resources, there are many variables that contribute to the uncertainty of these commodities such as exploitation dynamics (e.g. technological, production, and cost factors), international law and trade factors, and local legislation factors (national and below). Factors such as these can make venture investment risky. The market, being dynamic, can quickly create constraints for new ventures and are often difficult to predict. The decline of oil and gas prices over the past year has jeopardized newer oil and gas technologies that rely on higher commodity prices to maintain a profit. The newly developed plays of the Marcellus and Utica Shales are examples of this phenomena. Oil and gas are limited resources; therefore, the price will continue to climb at some point. However, in the short run as prices fluctuate, companies will enter and exit based on technology and commodity price. This same phenomenon occurs in traditional mining with both the resources and technology. Traditional mining is much older than oil/gas mining and the technological growth has not been quite as rapid. Resources, however, are becoming more difficult to exploit as they are also limited. Many of the concentrated resources currently mined will at some time transition to a cut-off value too low for traditional mining methods to be used. Alternatives to traditional mining are already being developed and studied in an effort to mitigate the mentioned future issues of limited high grade ore. Both traditionally mined and oil and gas commodities attempt to maximize the resources available within the respective reserves. This thesis explores the potential of utilizing oil and gas resources to their fullest extent. Additional revenue that can be made from an oil or gas well will help mitigate risks associated with development and investment. Developing technologies to build on already available infrastructures will also potentially mitigate substantial investment costs for subsidiary technologies as well as ancillary environmental issues. Overall this thesis examines the feasibility of retrofitting Marcellus and Utica gas wells into geothermal wells and the potential of utilizing oil and gas wells as sources of traditionally mined materials.