Casing systems for geothermal – new research project GRE GEO

The EU-funded GEOTHERMICA program has launched new research project “Glass Fiber Reinforced Epoxy Casing System for Geothermal Application (GRE GEO)" with 8 partners from Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Casing systems for geothermal
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

Some of the main challenges in geothermal are corrosion and scaling. A multinational consortium of geothermal experts has launched a GEOTHERMICA project to develop a new glass fiber reinforced epoxy casing system for geothermal application, short GRE GEO. The casing system shall be used in new installations as well as utilized for workover for old wells. Furthermore, the project will include the guidelines and tools for the design, qualification and installation of the GRE piping system.   

Corrosion and scaling significantly reduce the lifespan of traditionally used steel casing systems, which must guarantee the wellbore integrity. Consequently, workover procedures are forced earlier than expected and becoming a substantial financial burden. In contrast, Glass fiber casings (GRE) do provide a much-desired alternative as this material is corrosion resistant. However, in comparison with steel, GRE pipes are up to now only available in relatively small inner diameters, with excessively large outer diameters. The GRE GEO (glass fiber reinforced epoxy casing for geothermal application) project will develop a new well completion strategy that aims to establish a corrosion-resistant alternative to decrease the development and production costs of geothermal energy while avoiding extra investments.

The consortium consists of eight partners:  

  • gec-co Global Engineering & Consulting Company GmbH, Germany, main coordinator
  • DrillTec GUT GmbH, Germany
  • TU Clausthal (ITE), Germany
  • Future Pipe Industries (FPI), The Netherlands, national leader
  • Dynaflow Research Group DRG, The Netherlands
  • Nuclear Research and Consultancy NRG, The Netherlands
  • Eartha AG, Switzerland
  • Service Industriels de Genève, Switzerland, cooperation partner

 “The lack of a suitable alternative to steel jeopardizes the profitability of any geothermal projects, which are facing massive corrosion problems”, says Markus Ruff, Chief Engineer and Project Manager GRE GEO at gec-co. “Developing a glass fiber reinforced epoxy casing system will lead to a major improvement for new and existing geothermal appliances. Due to our extensive experience in deep drilling technology and geothermal systems, we have the necessary overview to analyze the various
requirements and to coordinate this project successfully.”  

Corrosion and the build-up of scaling is a major challenge in traditional casing systems, not the least because the scaling also contains traces of naturally occurring radiation (NORM). Application of glass fiber as pursued in this study will be a major step in tackling these issues. Dr. Govert de With, principal consultant at NRG, says that their experience with NORM and the computational technologies for scaling and corrosion modelling that they have developed over the last decades will be instrumental in assessing the strengths of this new innovation.  

“Fiberglass has been used for more than 3 decades in the industry and the experience DRG has gained with the design and installation of composite materials translates well to the application of Fiberglass systems for geothermal wells” says Leo de Mul, Project Engineer for this project at Dynaflow Research Group (DRG). “The technical development of a new system needs to be accompanied by the development of guidelines and standards for the implementation of a new system and is key to get it accepted by the industry. With our long track record in Fiberglass design &
applications and our active involvement in ISO, DNV and NEN committees we strongly believe we have the knowledge to make this project a success”.

“Future Pipe Industries is a leader in designing, manufacturing and installing engineered composite pipe solutions for the Oil & Gas, Chemical & Industrial, Water & Infrastructure, Marine & Offshore industries. Enhancing our extensive product portfolio, we offer comprehensive solutions including system design and engineering services, project management, technical support, field supervision and training. In addition to above, we strive to enhance our dedicated knowhow and products for geothermal use”, says Hermen Veltkamp, Sales Manager at FPI.