Newberry Geothermal Testing Due Soon

BLM Sees Little Risk of Quake Problems

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - Newberry Crater south of Bend soon could become a bit more active, now that the BLM has approved a closely watched geothermal test project.

"There is potential of small seismic events," said BLM spokeswoman Lisa Clark said Monday. "We feel that people in the area might feel a little rumbling, but it will probably feel like a piece of heavy equipment driving by."

Davenport-Newberry Holdings and AltaRock plan to test a new technology, Engineered Geothermal Systems.

The companies say they plan to use and existing geothermal well on the western side of the volcano.

The companies also plan to use a process called hydro-shearing, where they pump water 6,000-10,000 feet below the surface of the Earth.

Unlike fracking, a controversial process where rock is cracked open by high water pressure, the two companies say they plan to use existing cracks and widen them slightly, using far less pressure than the one used to extract natural gas from underground.

"We're doing a process called hydro-shearing," said Clark, "We will inject water into existing fractures and just use that water to widen them a little bit, it is definitely a different process."

BLM said the plans are just for a temporary test site over the next two years.

"At this point, it is a test site," said Clark, "However, it could be used as a model for other sites around the country, or perhaps even future opportunities in the Newberry area."

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