Interview with Maria Richards at the Geothermal Lab at SMU in Texas

Utilizing geothermal energy in oil & gas fields could expand the geothermal sector dramatically and is the key topic of the annual Power Plays conference organized by SMU in Texas.

Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas is one of the few universities in the United States with a dedicated geothermal laboratory and/ or program. The school has played a particularly important role in looking at ways for a technology transfer from the oil & gas sector into geothermal.

Maria Richards
Maria Richards

This year the school will be holding its 8th international geothermal energy conference, “Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields”. It will take place April 25-26, 2016 at the SMU Campus in Dallas, Texas.

We have been covering some of the work done on geothermal work on oil & gas fields in the U.S., and therefore have been following a bit the work by the SMU Geothermal Lab. So it was great being able to do an interview with Maria Richards, the Coordinator for the Geothermal Lab, and President-elect of the Geothermal Resources Council (GRC).

How did Southern Methodist University get involved in geothermal?

The SMU Geothermal Laboratory was founded in 1970 by Dave Blackwell. As a new faculty member at SMU, Dave worked with graduate and undergraduate students to build upon his PhD research. They collected heat flow data including high resolution well temperatures from surface to bottom depth, thermal conductivity of well core/cuttings, and natural heat production of related rocks. The initial research was focused in the Pacific Northwest states, and research has continued to expand across the U.S.

What impact has the research at the SMU Geothermal Lab had on the O&G community in the US?

The O&G community has long used the Geothermal Map of North America, produced by the SMU Geothermal Lab, to understand the thermal history of sedimentary basins. SMU heat flow and temperature-at-depth maps assist companies in determining where to drill for oil and gas. By knowing the temperatures at various depths in a sedimentary basin, O&G companies can determine if formation temperatures are within the range required to mature organic matter into oil and gas they can extract.

Today the O&G industry comes to us to learn more about opportunities to generate energy from produced fluids and surface equipment. Our Power Plays conference is an opportunity for them to network and learn about new research and technologies to assist them in both practical and creative ways to use all the resources they have within their fields.

Read the full interview.