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Because both sectors involve the extraction of high-energy fluids from deep beneath the earth’s surface, it’s only natural that the oil and gas industry should share many technologies with its little cousin, geothermal. And, in fact, conventional rotary drilling rigs, drillbits, mud, casing and cement developed for oilfield use have all been standard equipment in the geothermal industry for years. Yet, while these technologies have made oil and natural gas the dominant forms of energy on the planet, geothermal has remained a niche resource, until recently located almost exclusively on the edges of tectonic plates, where high-temperature water and steam are available in relatively shallow, highly permeable formations. The United States leads the world in geothermal development, with 30% of the global online capacity, yet even in the US geothermal represents less than 1% of total electrical supply.
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