US Geothermal Awarded Guatamala Rights

U.S. Geothermal Inc. said that its subsidiary, U.S. Geothermal Guatemala S.A., was recently awarded a geothermal energy rights concession in Guatemala. The concession area is located 14 miles southwest of Guatemala City and contains 24,710 acres of energy rights located in the center of the Agua and Pacaya twin volcano complex.

A key asset included in the concession, the company said, is the El Ceibillo geothermal project which has nine existing geothermal wells of depths ranging from 560 to 2000 feet drilled during the 1990s and a significant amount of geophysical and other technical data.

Six of the wells have measured reservoir temperatures in the range of 185 to 204°C. Fluid sample and rock cutting data from the wells suggest the existence of a deeper, higher-permeability reservoir at this site with temperatures ranging from 210 to 230°C. These wells have high conductive thermal gradients that indicate rapidly increasing temperatures with depth, U.S. Geothermal said. Two wells are currently producing steam for local industrial use.

“This concession meets our criteria as an advanced-stage geothermal project with a known steam reservoir occurrence. Our director, Dr. Leland Mink, was involved in geothermal development in Guatemala during the 1980s and has considerable knowledge of the concession. The concession also contains several unexplored prospective areas that have extensive geothermal manifestations such as fumaroles, thermal springs and gas vents where magma or hot igneous rocks at shallow depth are releasing gases or interacting with groundwater,” said Daniel Kunz, president and CEO of U.S. Geothermal Inc.

El Ceibillo is located in an industrial zone with major electrical transmission and distribution lines nearby. The company has already completed preliminary reservoir, transmission and environmental studies for the project and plans to engage in detailed testing and studies to quantify the electrical generating capacity of the El Ceibillo geothermal resource by deepening a number of the existing wells. Planning is also underway for exploration and testing of at least four additional prospects containing fumaroles and hot springs that are located within the concession area.

“It is too early to assign total megawatt potential for the numerous geothermal sites within this large concession area . We are looking into sourcing development finance through international finance institutions such as Overseas Private Investment Corporation, International Finance Corporation and the Inter-American Development Bank who provide both equity funds and project loans,” Kunz said.

Studies indicate that Guatemala has a large untapped geothermal energy potential of up to 4000 MW. For over 10 years, Ormat has been active in Guatemala and currently operates two geothermal power plants there with combined annual production of approximately 50 MW.

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