Pilgrim Hot Springs Project - PHASE 2

Phase 2 Overview

This phase of the Pilgrim Hot Springs Project involves collecting new data and synthesis of this data from six existing wells, drilling new shallow and moderate depth TG holes to penetrate the shallow aquifer, and siting and drilling two deeper confirmation slim holes.

Task 2

Collection of New Data from Existing Holes and Data Synthesis.
The purpose of this Task is to collect data from existing holes, and synthesize data to select drilling targets for Task 3.

Task 2.3: Repair Existing Wellhead and Collect New Data.

Six existing and closely spaced wells have penetrated the shallow thermal aquifer due to prior exploration efforts occurring in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but the wellheads are in poor condition. These wellheads need to be replaced so that the wells can be controlled and interference tests performed. New static and flowing temperature and pressure logs will be run in as many wells as possible. New water samples will be taken for chemical and stable isotope analysis. Short term flow and interference tests will be performed to characterize the current condition of these wells.

Status and Results

Optical imagery with lake, springs, wells and buildings located.


PS-3 before replacement. Note artesian flow
from holes where the casing has been corroded.


New valve on MI-1 prior to shut-in.
Flow is artesian.


The wellhead repair work was completed September 13th -18th 2010. The goal was to stop the wells from leaking, and make them accessible for instrumentation. The team completing the repairs were able to replace the gate valves on 4 of the 6 wells, including PS-1, PS-3, PS-4 and MI-1. The wells were in much poorer condition than originally anticipated, and recommendations for future work, including cementing the annulus to prevent uncontrolled leaking from the badly corroded casing is recommended in the report submitted to DOE.

This task was significantly delayed due to jurisdiction concerns that arose through the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. These issues were not resolved definitively until the end of August, and there was little time to mobilize as first snow generally falls in the region in September and the site is not accessible by road during the winter months. Due to the time constraints, it was not possible to run new pressure-temperature logs of the wells as originally planned.

As part of this task, updated water samples were obtained from PS-1, PS-3, PS-4, PS-5, MI1 and the PHS Lake (which is located adjacent to the church) and evaluated by DRI for common ions and SiO2.


Hydrochemical Data for PHS Geothermal Wells from 1972-2010.

A report detailing the work performed on the individual wellheads can be downloaded here. During the 2011 field season we are planing to replace the valves on PS-2 and PS-5 to make them accessible with instrumentation.

Task 2.4 Synthesis of New and Old Datasets and Siting Task 3 Gradient Holes.

All existing data from the site will be integrated into a conceptual model to assist in determining the location of deeper and hotter fluids. Based on this model the slim hole sites will be sited and permitted for drilling the following year. Completion of task 2.3 is the first milestone for the project, as it will provide the first indication of the overall size of the resource and provide locations for Task 3 drilling.

A stagegate decision will be made prior to Task 3 based upon the sufficiency of remote sensing and ground-based data in the identification of potential geothermal resources and the selection of well targets.


No work has been completed on this task to date. A geo-referenced map which contains information collected from 2010 and 2011 field work, including the planned temperature gradient holes will be used to develop the conceptual model, which will inform the selection of two deeper (2500 ft) holes planned for 2012.

Task 3: New Drilling Program

The purpose of this Task is to access the hotter resource through a drilling program, based on the conceptual model developed as part of Task 2.3. The drilling portion of this phase will be largely subcontracted out, including site access development, rig mobilization and demobilization (possibly helicopter supported), drilling, production logging, performing limited flow testing, casing and cementing, coring, and site remediation. Existing buildings and structures around the hot springs will not be influenced by the drilling and the overall impact on the ground will be as small as possible. No historic properties will be adversely affected. The task is divided into two subtasks as follows:

TG hole diagram


Task 3.1 Gradient Hole Drilling Program.

A minimum of two TG holes will be permitted and drilled to an estimated depth of 500 ft to test the conceptual model and further refine the location for the two deeper confirmation holes. These holes will be completed so that low temperature Kuster gauges can be run inside them. Holes which encounter liquid water will be sampled for chemical analysis.


ACEP contracted with Geothermal Resource Group, Inc. of Palm Desert, CA to develop a RFP and drilling plan for the 2011 TG holes. Solicitation information can be found here.


ACEP has completed the Coastal Project Questionnaire (CPQ) process with the Division of Coastal and Ocean Management under the Alaska Coastal Management Program (ACMP). This program determines state and federal permitting requirements for the drilling phase of the project.

The following permits and regulations apply:

  • SHPO – Section 106

Pilgrim Hot Springs was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. It is considered significant for its association with mining, agriculture, and religious practices. In addition, there are two known cemeteries in the areas surrounding the springs (exact location unknown). The area is considered to be culturally significant. We are closely working with SHPO to comply with Section 106. Bering Straits Native Corporation (BSNC) is providing assistance in fulfilling requirements for the Section 106 process as mandated by the National Historic Preservation Act.

  • Site Access Permitting

The project site can be reached from Nome by traveling on the Nome-Taylor Highway, a year-round road maintained by the State of Alaska. At a point 53 miles from Nome, a side road leads to the site of Pilgrim Hot Springs. This dirt road is not maintained by the State. The first 5 miles of the road are in good passable condition and support truck traffic. The last two miles of the road into the site are in poor condition which limits the use of the road (no flat-bed trailers, only pickups, quad utility vehicles or tracked vehicles).

We have permission from the road owners (MINC & BSNC) to use the road. BLM manages 1.5 miles of this dirt road. The BLM field office in Nome agreed that we can use the road for “casual use”. An additional permit (Application for Transportation and Utility Systems and Facilities on Federal Lands) will be required if the gravel pit (mile 5 off the dirt road) is to be used as a staging area. ACEP precautionary applied for this permit in February 2011.

We have a license to access PHS for the purposes of this research program, including the drilling phase. The property owned by Unaatuq LLC is a 320 acre inholding including both surface and subsurface rights, surrounded by property owned by Mary's Igloo Native Corporation (MINC). MINC also holds surface and subsurface rights to their property. ACEP has permission to cross MINC land, however additional permission will be needed if we are planning to drill on their land.

  • Drilling Permit - Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

The commission will not assert jurisdiction at this time due to the research nature of the project and the temperatures expected.

  • Temporary Water Use Permit

This permit is required prior to drilling operations. ACEP is coordinating with DNR, Division of Mining, Land and Water.

  • ADF&G Permit

The Alaska Division of Fish and Game requires information about exact locations for water withdrawal, a drawing of the screened intake and a description of our methods to prevent fish impingement. We are coordinating with the Division of Habitat. The water intake structure must be enclosed and centered within a screened enclosure with a maximum screen-mesh size of 0.04 inches. To reduce fish impingement at the screen/water interface, water velocity may not exceed 0.5 feet per second when the pump is operating. Design needs to follow can be found online at: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/license/uselicense/pdfs/97_08.pdf.

A fish habitat permit was issued on March 1st, 2011. This permit will be amended once we know the final drilling location, water withdrawal location and the exact maximum amount of water usage.

  • Corps of Engineers

The corps verified that the proposed drilling work is authorized by Nationwide Permit (NWP) No.6, Survey Activities. NWP No.6 and its associated Regional and General Conditions can be accessed at: www.poa.usace.army.mil/reg. TG hole drilling must comply with all terms and conditions associated with NWP No.6.

  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

Another Environmental Checklist (EF1) is needed for the TG hole drilling. We submitted the NEPA EF1 application on Feb 14, 2011.

ACEP anticipates no other permitting requirements to support the TG hole drilling program.

Task 3.2 Confirmation Hole Drilling Program.

Once these holes confirm the optimal locations for the two confirmation holes, a minimum of two deeper confirmation slim holes will be drilled to verify the model. Considerable flexibility in the drilling plan is necessary until specific sites are chosen and access issues are defined and addressed through the Alaska permitting process. These slim holes are anticipated to be up to 2500 feet deep.

Task 5.0: Project Management and Reporting

Reports and other deliverables will be provided in accordance with the Federal Assistance Reporting Checklist following the instructions included therein and in accordance with Alaska Energy Authority Renewable Energy Fund reporting guidelines. In addition to formal reports, technology transfer of information from this project will take place through a combination of public meetings in communities affected by the project, as well as release of data and results through web-based reporting tools such as this Wiki.

  • Anupma Prakash and Peter Illig, along with Neil McMahon from AEA, gave a public presentation on geothermal in Alaska at the Blue Loon in Fairbanks in July 2010. Anupma and Peter focused on the Pilgrim project and the innovative exploration work. The presentations can be downloaded from ACEP’s publication database and a recording can be watched here.
  • We held a kick-off meeting in Fairbanks in July 2010 followed by a trip to Nome, including a Pilgrim site visit. DOE representatives included Eric Hass, Steve Blazek (NEPA) and Chris Carusona (NEPA). Representatives from MINC, BSNC, Unaatuq LLC, Kawerak and ACEP met with DOE in Nome before driving to Pilgrim.

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