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    Victor A. Schmidt, Drilling Engineering Editor

    In last February’s column, this editor mentioned the unexplored possibility of using solar energy as an alternative heat source to produce steam for heavy oil operations. Well, the industry is full of surprises. A few months after that column appeared, Sovani Meksvanh of Meksvanh, Whelan and Swift, LLC (MWS), contacted me to explain how his company has been working on that very idea since early 2004. They call their technology Solar Augmented Geothermal Energy (SAGE). MWS was formed in July 2004 to develop the idea. The company has generalized the technology to the subsurface storage of solar energy, thereby opening additional ways to use the energy collected. According to the patent, the technology will overcome “problems with solar energy production, geothermal energy production, and low-cost supercritical steam for efficient secondary and tertiary hydrocarbon recovery programs.” In addition to oil extraction, the authors claim that it can be used to convert depleted oil/gas fields to store solar energy.

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