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Update from the Field: Early Summer Activities

August 5, 2014

AltaRock staff have been busy planning and organizing for the summer field season, testing field equipment and getting the Newberry EGS Demonstration site ready to roll.

Welcome to new staff:

AltaRock Energy recently welcomed Todd Kjellesvik, Project Facilitator, to the Newberry EGS Demonstration. Todd will be working in the field and from the Bend office to keep the Newberry field activities moving forward over the coming months. Todd has extensive experience in the geothermal, oil and gas, and most recently the environmental industries.

Our summer interns, Morgan Ames, Zhang Wei and Ma Feng have also arrived in Bend. We’re excited to work with them on many aspects of the Newberry EGS Demonstration as they learn more about geothermal energy development practices.

Testing Groundwater Sampling Equipment:

 As part of our groundwater monitoring program, AltaRock samples water from a number of sites surrounding the Newberry EGS Demonstration field site. The Newberry EGS Demonstration was carefully designed by hydrologists and geochemists to protect the local groundwater system, and the water samples we analyze help us ensure that this valuable resource remains so. Over the coming months, we’ll continue to collect groundwater samples from a number of sites, adding to the existing geochemical data set established for the Newberry EGS project.

pump installation 1 pump installation 2 pump installation 3

Our summer interns have been a great help in testing the water sampling equipment this spring, and will continue to be involved in the groundwater sampling program.

Checking on the MSA:

The micro-seismic array (MSA) is a collection of seismic monitoring equipment installed at Newberry in 2012 as part of our ongoing seismic monitoring program. The state-of-the-art MSA provides real-time seismicity data to scientists not only at AltaRock, but also the USGS, Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and other groups. The data collected at Newberry helps us understand naturally-occurring background seismicity at this unique volcano, and is used during EGS stimulation to map reservoir growth. For a glimpse into the seismic life of Newberry, see PNSN’s website:

We’re happy to report that the MSA has held up very well over the past winter, and continues to provide excellent data.

Public Outreach:

We’d like to thank everyone who stopped by our booth in the Conscious Living Showcase at the Bend Summer Festival. We had a great time talking to all of you, and got to hear some great stories about Newberry over the weekend.

We will continue to bring you updates about the project on this blog, and via our Newberry EGS Demonstration Facebook page, found at:

Spring Cleaning at the Newberry EGS Demonstration

May 29, 2014
The Newberry EGS Demonstration site is ready to move forward with another field season despite the snow atop nearby Paulina Peak

The Newberry EGS Demonstration site is ready to move forward with a busy 2014 field season. Snow still caps nearby Paulina Peak, Newberry Volcano’s highest point.

Welcome back!

After a long winter of snowcapped peaks, the Newberry EGS Demonstration site is just about ready to be prepped for this year’s field work. We have a full season of field activities planned this year, beginning in the next few weeks with cleaning up a few downed trees along the roads, making a few road repairs and getting the site ready for contractors and site visitors to arrive. Over the next few months, we’ll make some necessary repairs to the injection well, re-stimulate to increase the size of the EGS reservoir, and continue real-time seismic monitoring.

Once the roads are cleared and the site is ready for heavy equipment, a drill rig will be brought to Newberry to make repairs to the injection well. Next, we’ll move in stimulation pumps and re-stimulate the well to improve the reservoir created during the 2012 stimulation. This year’s stimulation is expected to run for about four weeks, and will target the very deepest, hottest part of the wellbore where the greatest potential for heat transfer and efficiency exists. Improving both the well and reservoir means that Newberry will be in top form when it comes time to drill a production well and begin fluid circulation tests.

Stay tuned for more updates. Once field work gets underway, we’ll be bringing you regular updates via this blog, through our Newberry Facebook page ( If you’re interested in learning what it’s like to work at the Newberry EGS Demonstration site, come by the Bend Summer Festival and find us at our booth in the Conscious Living Showcase area, July 12th and 13th.

Looking Ahead at Newberry EGS Demonstration

January 28, 2014
Frozen over except where hot springs bubble to the surface and warm the water, East Lake on Newberry Volcano quietly waits for summer visitors to return.

Frozen over except where hot springs bubble to the surface and warm the water, East Lake on Newberry Volcano quietly waits for summer visitors to return.

We’ve wrapped up and winterized the Newberry EGS field site for the coming months, and with that in mind we wanted to fill you in on the results of last field season’s well logging activities and AltaRock’s plans for future work to keep the project moving forward.

Analysis of the 2012 stimulation results indicated that further stimulation of the reservoir would be needed to ensure the reservoir is large enough to be economically viable. Next summer, we’ll rig up the injection pumps used during stimulation last year and re-stimulate to increase the size of the deep reservoir.

During re-stimulation, we’ll continually monitor microseismic activity just like we did in 2012, keeping within our permitted boundaries for pressure, volume, microseismic activity and fracture propagation boundaries. Once the EGS reservoir encompasses an economically viable volume of hot rock, we’ll plan for and drill a production well into the reservoir and complete for flow and circulation tests between the two wells. Our goal is to complete the, re-stimulation and planning for the production well by the end of fall, 2014.

Over the coming months, AltaRock staff will be busy further analyzing data, presenting research results at scientific conferences, and working with the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Department of Energy on plans for next year’s field work. Since no more field work will be taking place until spring, we don’t expect to post many updates over the next few months. Please check back in the spring to see what’s happen at the Newberry EGS Demonstration site!

Media Mentions: Newberry EGS Demonstration featured in Bend Bulletin

November 13, 2013

Local Bend, Oregon media source The Bulletin has featured AltaRock Energy’s Newberry EGS Demonstration project in an excellent article AltaRock gathering cash for spring. Author Dylan Darling shares a great summary of the project after interviewing Susan Petty, President of AltaRock Energy Inc.


Media Mentions: MIT Technology Review

October 24, 2013

MIT Technology Review recently published an excellent article about the Newberry EGS Demonstration. Author Kevin Bullis interviewed both Susan Petty, President of AltaRock Energy, Inc., David Stowe, Public Relations representative for AltaRock as well as Jeff Tester, Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems at Cornell University. The article does an excellent job summarizing the Newberry EGS project as well as challenges and developments in the world of EGS today. Enjoy!

While the title Fracking for Geothermal Heat Instead of Gas implies the Newberry EGS demonstration uses hydraulic fracturing techniques, we’d like to clarify that AltaRock uses a process known as hydroshearing, which works at lower pressures and without the fracking chemicals used in the oil and gas industry. For more information on that distinction, please see our FAQ #1 and the blog post “Clarifications to Recent Headlines”, here:

FAQ #1:

Clarifications to Recent Headlines:


Water Sampling Update

October 3, 2013
Field dog Abi keeps an eye on things while we set up water monitoring equipment at Pad 55-29

Field dog Abi keeps an eye on things while we set up water monitoring equipment at Pad 55-29

Summer field work has come to a close at the Newberry EGS Demonstration site, and with it we’ve completed the last round of water sampling and analysis. The EGS project was carefully designed to protect the local groundwater system, and our groundwater monitoring program helps us make sure we protect this valuable natural resource. Our water monitoring program was designed to document and report groundwater conditions from up-, down- and cross-gradient locations surrounding the EGS site.

We collect water samples from ten sites, including eight monitoring wells, one domestic water well and the hot springs at both Paulina Lake and East Lake in the Newberry caldera. We measure pH, temperature, electrical conductivity, oxidation-reduction potential and turbidity in the field. Each sample is then filtered to remove sediment and organic matter before being bottled and shipped to laboratories for analysis. The samples are analyzed for 30 different constituents and results are returned to AltaRock for review. Data from these samples are reviewed by AltaRock’s staff geochemist and geologists, and made available to government regulators.

To date we’ve collected and analyzed 45 samples and, as expected, no water quality changes have been detected at any of the monitoring sites. Samples were collected before, during and after stimulation, and sample collection has continued on a monthly basis since December 2012, when stimulation ended. When this summer’s field work came to a close, we spent several days winterizing our sampling wells and closing everything up for the winter months for the winter.

removing pump

Winterizing the wells: we removed this low-flow water pump from one of the water monitoring wells at the end of summer field work.

When we removed the low-flow pump from this well, we also had to lift out the seismometer. After detaching the pump from the cables that go to the surface we replaced the seismometer, which will remain in the well for the winter.

When we removed the low-flow pump from this well, we also had to lift out the seismometer. After detaching the pump from the cables that go to the surface we replaced the seismometer, which will remain in the well for the winter.

Update from the Field: Well Logging Completed!

September 16, 2013

It’s been a busy few weeks at the Newberry EGS Demonstration field site, and we’re happy to report that we’ve completed both the injectivity test and well logging activities. Over the next few weeks we’ll be carrying out an additional seismic study, continuing our groundwater monitoring program and buttoning up the site for the winter months ahead.

While we’re still processing data and interpreting the results as data is collected in the field, we’d like to share a few of our favorite photos from this summer.


Setting up well logging equipment at the 55-29 well pad: a pipeline from the on-site water well provided clean groundwater for the injectivity test (lower right). The boom truck (left) was used to remove heavy parts from the wellhead before the logging truck (center) lowered scientific instruments into the well to collect data.




A ‘dummy’ tool was run into and out of the well prior to deploying well logging instruments to be sure the wellbore was free from obstructions (top left). Heat-tolerant camera used to image the inside of the well during logging (top right). Caliper tool used to gather data inside the well and assess the condition of the steel casingthat lines the well to over 6,000 feet below ground surface (bottom).


Laying out a string of geophones prior to lowering into one of the seismic monitoring wells (above), attaching data transmitter cables to a string of geophones (bottom right) and lowering a geophone into a well (bottom right).




August 14, 2013

Yini Nordin works on the wellhead valve at Newberry

We’ve been busy here at AltaRock preparing for additional testing of the EGS well, which is scheduled to begin the last week of August. We’ve been lining up contractors, cranes, well-bore evaluation equipment, and crew for the operations.  Compared to our field activities last summer and fall, the field work planned for 2013 is short and sweet, but it is critical to keep the Newberry Volcano EGS Demonstration moving forward.

This field season we’ll be running a variety of tests on the NWG 55-29 geothermal well. These tests will help us better characterize the outcome of last year’s field operations and help us make decisions about future work at the site. Here’s a short summary of planned activities for the 2013 field season:

Injectivity test

We’ll connect pumps and pipe from the on-site water well to the deep geothermal well. Once the pumps are turned on, the rate at which the groundwater from the local aquifer can be injected into the well at moderate pressure will help us understand how much we improved the permeability of the  zone which was stimulated last year.  Although the pressure won’t be high enough to create any new permeability or generate microseismicity, we will continue to monitor our seismic network, just like we have been doing for the past year.

Well logging

Well logging refers to collecting data about the steel, cement and rock in a well by lowering an instrument or tool down the well bore. This summer we’ll be using a number of well logging tools to gather data on the well. For example, measuring the temperature of the water in the well will tell us whether the rock and water have warmed back up to the pre-stimulation temperatures or remain cooled due to the injected water. The logging data will be processed and used to inform decisions about future work plans at Newberry.

Water testing

As part of our on-going water monitoring plan, we continue to collect surface water and groundwater samples from nine different sites and have them analyzed for a variety of geochemical constituents. Maintaining the water quality of the local aquifer is important to the EGS Demonstration, and also to the public. To date, we’ve analyzed over 40 samples and no significant changes have been found at any of the sites we monitor. As part of the monitoring plan, the Bureau of Land Management has also collected duplicates of several samples and sent them for analysis as well in order to confirm our results. Our previous blog post ‘Groundwater Monitoring: What’s Winter Field Work Like?’ gives more specifics about the process.

StaffBio: Yoda

August 2, 2013

Meet Yoda: A mostly Jack Russell Terrier. At the age of 5, he was adopted 3 years ago from the Seattle Humane Society.

A day in the life of an office dog:

Originally an illegal worker in the Seattle office, Yoda spent his first few days hiding the drawers of Yini Nordin’s desk until he was discovered by AltaRock President Susan Petty and offered a full-time job as a receptionist.

Yoda loves his job, taking it seriously as he roams from office to office implementing the dog petting therapy treatment and making sure everyone is relaxed and happy. If you visit our Seattle office, he will most likely be the first one to greet you.

Yoda’s role in the Newberry EGS Demonstration:

In 2012, Yoda was given the task of field assistant, keeping Yini company during the 4 months they spent at Newberry. He embraced his new role exuberantly, meeting fellow field dogs, running in the snow with glee and packing on the pounds from snack table handouts. The 2013 field season is scheduled to start in a few weeks, and once it does Yoda will be back at Newberry as a full-time field assistant.


StaffBio: Yini Nordin

July 26, 2013

Yini Nordin

Yini Nordin accepted her position as Production Engineer with AltaRock in 2010 after leaving the sunshine of Houston, TX for the cool, wet weather of Seattle, WA.

Her role at Newberry has ranged from engineering assignments to Crockpot chef, keeping the field staff full and happy. Whether she’s barbequing or running the forklift, her canine sidekick Yoda is always nearby.

Role in the Demonstration:

Yini helped design and implement the stimulation plan at Newberry. She was instrumental in wiring the data logging system and helping install all of the sensors, gauges and pumps used on site over the course of the project.

One moment in time stands out in particular for Yini when she thinks about the Newberry project,  “I realized how mentally invested I am in the success of this EGS Demonstration while sitting in two inches of snow chewing ice off sensor wires to prevent cable sagging and data loss”.

Prior to geothermal:

Yini graduated with an B.S. in Petroleum Engineering from Texas A&M University in 2009 and spent a short time working in the west Texas oil and gas fields before moving to Seattle to join AltaRock in 2010.

Why she’s fascinated by geothermal energy:

“…the concept of technology development. Energy sources are abundant, but as demands increase, new ways to economically and safely harness them have to continually evolve to keep up with the trend.”

In her free time:

Yini enjoys making, consuming and thinking about delicious food, and going on adventures with her sidekick, Yoda.