Evaluation of the factors controlling concentration of non-condensable gases and their possible impact on the performance of geothermal systems: Case study of Olkaria Wells in the Kenyan Rift Valley

Citation:
Wamalwa RN, WASWA AARONK, Nyamai CM, Mulwa JK, Ambuso WJ. "Evaluation of the factors controlling concentration of non-condensable gases and their possible impact on the performance of geothermal systems: Case study of Olkaria Wells in the Kenyan Rift Valley." International Journal of Geosciences. 2016;7:257-279.

Abstract:

The Olkaria geothermal field is located in the Kenyan Rift valley, about 120 km from Nairobi. Development of geothermal resources in the Olkaria area, a high temperature field, started in the early 1950s. In the subsequent years numerous expansions have been carried out with additional power plants being installed in Olkaria. These include a binary plant at Olkaria South West (Olkaria III) in 2000, a condensing plant at Olkaria North East (Olkaria II) in 2003, another binary plant at Olkaria North West (Oserian) in 2004 and finally condensing plants in the year 2014 within East production field (EPF) and Olkaria Domes (OD) areas. The total generation from this field is about 730 Mw. The study considered samples from 4 producing wells from 3 fields of the Olkaria geothermal area (OW-44 from the Olkaria East, OW-724A from the Olkaria North East, and OW-914 and OW-915 from the Olkaria Domes field). The chemical data were first analyzed using SOLVEQ. This helped in the determination of the equilibrium state of the system, the reservoir temperatures and the total moles to be run through CHILLER. The run CHILLER considered the processes that have been proven to be occurring in the Olkaria field i.e., boiling and condensing processes, fluid-fluid mixing rocks and titration resulting from water-rock interaction. The effects on gas evolution were evaluated based on the resulting recalculated gas pressures. The results indicate that the gas species are not in equilibrium with the mineral assemblages. The CHILLER evaluation shows boiling as the major process leading to the evolution of gases. OW-44 had the least gas concentrations, arising from the considered reservoir processes due to degassing, and near surface boiling, besides the removal of NH3 , H2 and H2S are through the reaction with steam condensate. The gas breakout is most likely in OW-914 and least in OW-44. The study proposes different reservoir management strategies for the different parts of the Olkaria geothermal field. That is by increasing hot reinjection in the eastern sector around well OW-44. The reservoir around OW-914 is to be managed by operating the wells at a minimum flow rate (or even to close them) or the use of chemical inhibitors to prevent calcite scaling.

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