February 9, 2022

Team Profile:
Moving Forward to Supercritical Exploration Drilling

Brian Carey

photo credit:
Lloyd Homer

Where is the best location to drill Aotearoa New Zealand’s first supercritical geothermal exploratory well? The answer to this question will be needed to advance Aotearoa New Zealand’s supercritical geothermal energy opportunity.

We delivered a conference paper and oral presentation at the 2021 New Zealand Geothermal Workshop that outlines the current status of preparatory and pre-planning work for drilling a supercritical exploration well.

Early supercritical projects are expected to have long lead times. To align with low carbon economy and energy sector aspirations, sector-wide roll out of supercritical geothermal operations ideally needs to occur before 2050. Working backwards, pilot and scale up demonstration of supercritical energy production would be needed by about 2040, and thus, the first exploration wells need to be drilled by 2030 or soon after.

But unknowns include drilling location, well design, drillability, fluid handling, appropriate surface facilities for energy transformation, consenting and more. Best practice information for engagement, planning and regulatory framework, and the handling and use of supercritical fluids needs to be developed as part of determining if supercritical geothermal is a viable industrial energy opportunity for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Download the conference paper to find out more about our thinking on:

  • Geoscience to locate exploratory drilling targets - where are the most promising locations for supercritical exploratory drilling?
  • Supercritical geothermal exploratory well design - What underground conditions will drilling likely encounter? [You can also access our report on the geological prognoses for two supercritical well designs]
  • Consenting for exploratory drilling- What consents are required for drilling a supercritical exploratory well in the TVZ?
  • Surface plant & energy transformation - What surface plant is required to handle supercritical fluids? What energy transformation processes need to be employed to use the energy?

read more


Business Case & Opportunity
Governance & Regulation


new publication
geothermal drilling
deep drilling
supercritical resources
energy transformation

Further Updates