NQ Exploration Survey in Malaysia and Prospects for Geothermal Development in ASEAN

NQ News, Monday November 16, 2020

Among early activities of NewQuest Geotechnology was geothermal survey in Malaysia. In 2009, Dr. Yunus Daud founder of NewQuest Geotechnology and the team through PT Makara Mas UI together with USAINS Malaysia conducted MT-TDEM survey in the Tawau Geothermal Area (Sabah) for the JMG (Minerals Geoscience Agency). Furthermore, the Reconnaissance Survey in Peninsular-Malaysia in 2010, as personal consultant for TNB-Research (Tenaga Nasional Berhad). There were many geothermal prospect locations studied (at least 13 prospect areas) and come up with 3 most prospect areas: Ulu Slim & Sungai Kelah in Perak, Lojing in Kelantan.

ASEAN through Indonesia and Philippines accounts for about 27% of the world's total geothermal power plants with a combined installed capacity of 4 GW. In the next decade, ASEAN will remain the center of global geothermal development because Indonesia plans to add 6 GW of capacity and Philippines 1.4 GW.

Geothermal exploration activities in Indonesia which have been going on for more than half a century have completed surveys in all high enthalpy locations, totaling around 100 and since the last few years exploration activities have continued to locations with medium enthalpy totaling 167 locations.

Middle-low temperature geothermal in ASEAN, spreads not only in Indonesia and the Philippines, but in almost all countries except Brunei and Singapore and all of them have started identification activities, surveys to exploration. Even according to John W. Lund and Aniko N. Toth, direct use of geothermal in 4 countries, namely Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar are bigger than Indonesia.

Regarding the geothermal potential of ASEAN countries, compiled from the study of the Economic Research Institute of ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA): Assessment on Necessary Innovations for Sustainable Use of Conventional and New-Type Geothermal Resources and their Benefits in East Asia and ASEAN and other sources as following:

Malaysia, there are at least nearly 300 MW of geothermal potential that can be developed from 3 locations; Peninsular Malaysia Region The geothermal survey at Ulu Slim, Perak, 148 MW, other sites are Lojing in Kelantan, Ulu Langat and Batang Kali in Selangor, and Sungai Denak in Perak. In Sabah/ Labuan Region in Apas Kiri, Tawau 85 MWe and Segaria - Sungai Jipun - Gunung Pock area in Kunak 40.25 Mwe.

Thailand, according to a study by Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency in 2006, 112 hot brine sources are found in regions of Thailand except in the northeastern part. Water temperatures on the surface level ranged 40°C–100°C. The current power production from geothermal energy in the binary system is 0.3 MWe.

Vietnam, data of the year 2000, there are 269 geothermal resources have discovered in Vietnam in which there are 140 warm spring and 84 hot spring. Several of them, there are 41 very hot (61-100 °C) and 4 are extremely hot (more than 100 °C). The geothermal resources have been distributed following the geographic areas in Vietnam territory. Vietnam is expecting to generate 680 MWe total geothermal power, 155 MWe of which is expected to be available by 2025 (ERIA, 2016). ORMAT Inc. set up a pre-feasibility project to generate 50 MW of electricity from geothermal prospects in Bang (Quang Binh), Mo Duc and Nghia Thang (Quang Ngai), Hoi Van (Binh Dinh), Tu Bong, and Danh Thanh (Khanh Hoa), all in the central region. However, these projects have been unsuccessful due to various barriers. In 2013, the Vietnamese government granted license to LiOA Geothermal Joint Stock Company to explore Hoi Van geothermal prospect in South Central Vietnam and develop a geothermal power plant with 10-15 MW capacity. The project is still in the thermal gradient drilling stage.

Myanmar, There are at least 43 locations already marked by the Myanmar Engineering Society capable of geothermal power production and some of these hydrothermal reservoirs lie quite close to Yangon which is a significant underutilized resource. Preliminary investigations had been made on 43 locations in 1986 by Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE). Additionally, in 1990 UNOCAL in cooperation with MOGE conducted analysis of geothermal data from samples of 15 hot spring surface discharges of 57°C or higher. Surface exploration revealed a total of 93 thermal springs identified in Kachin State, Shan State, Kayah State, the Southern Part of Rakhine State in Kyaukphyu, Central Myanmar Area, Shwebo-Monywa Area, and especially in Mon State and Taninthayi Division. Drilling and testing of confirmation wells is the next step.

Others 2 Mekong countries Cambodia and Laos also have geothermal potency. In Cambodia geothermal activity is visible at ground level, in Kampong Speu province, while Laos report a 57 MW geothermal potency.

In Timor Leste (East Timor) geothermal potency found on the mainland indicated by eeveral moderately high flowrate springs, the springs on Atauro Island appear to have higher source temperatures (160-180 °C).

Geothermal locations with moderate temperature are very scattered in Indonesia with various systems: Volcanic system, non-volcanic and associated with oil fields etc. Exploration activities, which will be continued with geothermal exploitation of moderate temperatures, are very likely to encourage similar activities in several ASEAN countries, which also have similar geothermal sources. NQ with experience and geothermal exploration capabilities with all its networks and partners is ready and encourages exploration and utilization of geothermal in ASEAN.

There is no geothermal potential in 2 rich Asean countries, namely Singapore and Brunei. But Singapore has conveyed its interest to the Indonesian Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources to participate in developing geothermal on the island of Sumatra. As well as the rich country of oil and gas, Brunei, like the current world trend, of course will also consider investing in renewable energy, including geothermal.

Apart from the geothermal potential/ location described above, other evidence that ASEAN is suitable for geothermal development is shown in the map below. The results of this research have been tested on existing geothermal plants with a suitability of 92%.

Under a scientific collaboration between the Institute of Information Science and Technologies (Cnr-Isti) and the Institute of Geosciences and Georesources (Cnr-Igg), researchers have created a global map, showing suitability of an area for the installation of a highly efficient geothermal power plant. (source: CNR).


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