DEEP secures mineral rights for produced fluids

Things are coming along for the Deep Earth Energy Production Corp. (DEEP) geothermal electrical power production project south of Torquay.

They’ve drilled their first well, and have now secured the mineral rights to the fluids from the area around it.

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DEEP’s name came up in a government press release on April 25, announcing Saskatchewan’s subsurface mineral Crown disposition public offering held two days earlier. It was the first offering of the 2019-20 fiscal year, and raised $10,000 in revenue for the province based on interest in resource exploration in the Estevan area.

A single subsurface mineral permit block totalling 1,554 hectares (3840 acres, or six sections) was posted and received a bonus bid of $10,000. DEEP was the successful bidder. The permit block is located along the Saskatchewan-North Dakota border, approximately 30 kilometres southwest of Estevan, an area that is prospective for brine minerals such as lithium, the government release noted.

The permit block land is in the vicinity of the initial DEEP well, which is close enough to the U.S. border that you can see the U.S. from its lease. 

“The public offering process helps facilitate exploration activity by Saskatchewan’s mining industry for this specific class of minerals in an orderly, transparent way,” Energy and Resources Minister Bronwyn Eyre said in a release. “Enabling global access to our diverse resource potential will help sustain Saskatchewan mining in the long term.”

DEEP is planning on a production test of their first well, drilled this past winter. The well will be produced into a tank farm, and those fluids will then be reinjected into the well. The test is expected to take about three weeks.

DEEP president and CEO Kirsten Marcia said on April 29, “This is for the mineral rights for any minerals in those fluids.”

“We’re planning our flow and built up test to come in June.”

That test will be used for the final design of the next well, which is planned to be drilled approximately 1 1/2 kilometres away from the first. Drilling is expected to commence in July.

Introduced in 2018, subsurface mineral public offerings use an open and competitive bidding system similar to the existing process for issuing periodic oil and gas dispositions in Saskatchewan.  The system covers all natural mineral salts and their compounds found more than 60 metres below the land surface. 

These include boron, calcium, lithium, magnesium, potassium (of which potash is a compound), sodium, bromine, chlorine, fluorine, iodine, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur.

The next scheduled date for a subsurface mineral public offering in Saskatchewan is Dec. 17.

DEEP’s initial well is the deepest in Saskatchewan, measuring 3,530 metres true vertical depth. A piece of that core was shown to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Regina on Jan. 11 when he announced $25.6 million in federal funding for the project.

The federal funding makes up approximately half of the funds needed to complete this, the second phase of the project, which includes building a pilot plant that would be supplying five megawatts of electricity to the power grid in about 2 1/2 years. Its initial well was spudded in mid-November and completed in late December.

That included the retrieval of over 200 metres of core, were recovered across the targeted reservoir. The core captured the Winnipeg and Deadwood Formations and terminating in the Precambrian bedrock. Detailed geotechnical core analysis will be conducted in the near term. This core data will tie into specialized geophysical data including detailed micro-images of the reservoir rocks captured inside the well.

Marcia will be one of the presenters at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Regina. She is scheduled to speak on May 29 at 10:45 a.m., as part of a session entitled “Where are the new opportunities?”

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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