Probabilistic planning improves geothermal drilling time and cost forecasts

The transition of our engineering capabilities and digital technology to renewable energy is a major focus for the iQx™ team. The more excited we are to see that our applications which have created proven value in oil and gas, are now actively being used for deep geothermal energy.

Geothermal energy wells can be even more challenging than oil and gas wells, in terms of estimating project time, cost and risk exposure. 

The factors that make geothermal wells more complicated than regular oil and gas wells


  • Geothermal projects often have more than one investor/stakeholder.
  • They produce lower value of heat than hydrocarbons and include cost limitations.
  • Are usually deeper and operate in a higher temperature environment.
  • Have low reservoir pressure/total lost circulation.
  • The reservoir section is usually drilled in hard and abrasive formations.
  • They often produce more mass flow rates and energy.
  • Have larger wellbore and casing sizes.
  • Have higher longevity.
  • Have different production profiles/timeframes.
  • Are more prone to mechanical casing damage.
  • Usually have a different completion.
  • Can have issues with scaling and corrosion, from high temperature production fluids.


The iQx™ solution

This case study takes us to the Bavarian Molasse basin where RED Drilling & Services GmbH (RED) has been engaged in numerous geothermal energy projects. 

RED (former RAG Energy Drilling) is an Austria-based company with over 80 years of expertise in drilling wells. It’s a business committed to deploying state of the art technology to achieve the safe, stable and cost efficient extraction of energy for the European market. 

RED utilises iQx™ to achieve a more accurate picture of well time and costs involved in geothermal drilling. 


Probabilistic planning methods providing complete risk and reward insight to the stakeholders 

RED’s switch from using a deterministic (Excel-based) approach to probabilistic basis for well planning, which offers a more complete and accurate view of time, cost and risk estimation yields for investor decision making, was game changing. 

Our P1™ application has been proven in all types of oil and gas well operations planning including; drilling, completion, well intervention, slot recovery and abandonment. It provides answers that aren’t easily found in other planning tools, which struggle to map out all possible outcomes and risks that can arise during well operations or identify why a well may be more or less expensive than planned. 

Capturing this information immediately is vital and matters even more in geothermal well drilling because of their complex characteristics. 

All of this adds up to longer drilling days, more expensive equipment and higher costs. And because the value of heat is lower than hydrocarbon values, the sometimes unclear economic case makes it harder to justify the green light for similar projects.

By applying the iQx™ P1™ Monte Carlo probabilistic simulation methodology, RED can offer clients an assessment of cost range that will enable more accurate project budgets and avoid overruns. This approach is a compelling part of the proposition for investors. 

With P1™, the output of the time and cost planning can be better used to estimate the probability of achieving the project goals within a certain time and budget. A 10% chance becomes P10, a 50% chance P50, or a 90% chance P90. Based on the degree of risk acceptable to stakeholders, well-founded investment decisions can be made and optimum project management controls put in place. 

Probabilistic planning improves geothermal drilling time and cost forecasts

Probabilistic planning improves geothermal drilling time and cost forecasts

The suite of iQx™ applications create instant benefits for well engineering teams

P1™ intuitive user interface allows data to be imported from multiple sources to support operational planning. Results are easily transferred to iQx ™ time and cost tracking tool, CT™, when the project moves from planning to operations.

CT™ application enables the engineers to track actual time and cost up against the approved budget in P1™ and can forecast the project’s final duration and expenditures. The iQx™ D2 application then creates post drilling reports faster, using available data from planning and operational phases in addition to facilitating task management and boosting quality of generated documents.

The result is increased standardisation, improved communication and collaboration, efficient workload distribution and empowered transparency of project related risks and cost for the management and stakeholders.

Crucially, Ex™ application records learnings that can be applied to avoid mistakes and maximise performance in future projects.

Imporved time and cost forecasts enable commercial growth

With iQx™ P1™, RED has enjoyed important gains - from increased project performance and client satisfaction to new business opportunities. There is also the wider environmental picture to consider - with a more accurate method of assessing true costs, greater trust in the investment community will result and more geothermal projects are likely to follow.

  • Overall increased efficiency in well time and cost planning has been achieved.
  • Time saved led to an increased number of projects, enabling commercial growth.
  • More accurate well time and cost overviews are available.
  • Greater transparency of time and cost planning for stakeholders is increasing interest and trust in investing into geothermal projects.
  • Seamless workflow sharing and collaboration between project members.