Torquay – With the drilling rig having reached 2,700 metres already out of a planned 3,500 metres, the first well in a geothermal electrical power project was well underway on Nov. 23. That’s what roughly 40 people saw when they had the opportunity to tour Deep Earth Energy Production Corp.’s project south of Torquay.
The rig tour came a day after the big announcement was made in Regina that drilling had commenced south of Torquay the previous week.
There was a strong turnout from the Estevan’s economic community, including civic and business leaders. A few people believed enough in the project to have invested in it, so for them, it was gratifying to see things in motion.
Others in attendance were neighbours to the project, coming to check it out.
Ron Carson is both an investor and a member of DEEP’s board. He said, “I’ve been involved, somewhat, I guess for the last five years, but a little more involved after they asked me to be on the board. I help them out wherever I can. I’m not an expert on the drilling end of this, but I guess it helps to be a little practical, once in a while.”
Asked how he got involved, Carson responded, “Kirsten came and was kind of soliciting a few people a few years back. It interested me. I got involved to a certain point, not in a big way, but somewhat. As time went on, I got a little more interested in it and became more invested in it. When this rig is off here, and we test this formation to see if we’ve got continuous flow and we’ve got everything we need, it’ll be very interesting. It’ll be, I think, bankable then. Right now, there’s risk. But I believe in it. I think this is going to be it, hopefully.”
Clare Johnson owns the land the well is being drilled on. He has surface rights, but not mineral rights. He said most of the land around there has Crown minerals, so it’s a matter of surface leases for most of the local drilling. “I think it’s pretty exciting. This is something new that looks possible, creates some jobs and provides some clean energy.”
He lives in Weyburn but the home farm is 10 kilometres west of the site.
Cathy Welta-Eagles is with Estevan’s economic development board and is the current president of the Estevan Chamber of Commerce. She said. “I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for our area.
“Huge potential for our area, which is obviously struggling,” she said.
“We are looking at the future of coal. We’re looking for alternatives, and this is a fantastic alternative for energy.”
Ed Turnbull has some money involved in it. “I’m a small investor. It’s really exciting. This is something that I really hope is the future for the southeast here. WE need a kick here, and hopefully this is something that will be the way of the future.”
Asked about the lengthy timeline it has taken to get to this point, he responded, “They’ve done a lot of homework. It’s taken a lot of time. I don’t know how many years – a few years now, we’ve been waiting for something to happen here. But I think they’ve done their homework and everything works out well.
“It’s good to see.”
Estevan MLA Lori Carr was thrilled with the project. She noted, “I think this is absolutely monumental, not only for the province of Saskatchewan. This is the first project of its type across Canada. It’s really exciting, that it’s happening right here, in the constituency of Estevan.
Carr also lives not terribly far, as the crow flies, from the site, living relatively close to Torquay.
For Nathan Wilhelm, it’s not only an interesting project, but also potential opportunity for his construction business down the road.
“We need a good new story that somebody is investing in technology – new technology, the first in Canada, right, and for that to be happening in our back yard.”
He hasn’t invested in it, but he knows people who are. “It’s also exciting to hear how many local vendors are involved in the project,” Wilhelm said.
He’s on Estevan’s economic development committee.
“Once they get done this observation well and get going on the whole infrastructure, we want to at least have a shot at providing contracting services with our local construction business, also.”
Asked about the current mood of Estevan, which has had apprehension due to the announced retirement of part of the Boundary Dam Power Station, Units, 4 and 5, Wilhelm said, “The current mood is everybody’s still in a holding pattern. Stories like this give people a little bit more confidence that there’s going to be a future if we don’t get some movement on the coal. It’s not so much just what Deep Earth is doing, but there’s also the offshoot of what Deep Earth is going to provide, for greenhouses and technologies that can piggyback with this.”
Pauline Ziehl-Grimsrud has a farm a few kilometres due west of the project.
At the conclusion of the tour, DEEP president and CEO Kirsten Marcia was quite pleased with the response.
“This is a great day. We’re so excited that this project is finally underway. We’ve got such wonderful support from this community and the people that have believed this project would be a possibility,” Marcia said.
“We formed the company in 2010. And the reality is it’s made progress, but at times, it’s stalled out. We were underfunded. But now, everything is in place and there’s really nothing stopping us now.
“Things are going great. This is the best, world-class drilling expertise that we have, local and home grown.
“This is exciting. This is the first geothermal project for Canada. I love the fact it’s marrying our local technology and our local expertise, but in a brand new way. We’re taking this world-class oilfield expertise and paring it on a clean, renewable energy project. I think that’s great,” she concluded.