Developing in leaps and bounds

Seequent presents the latest features of its 3-D geothermal modelling solution, Leapfrog Geothermal
Developing in leaps and bounds Developing in leaps and bounds Developing in leaps and bounds Developing in leaps and bounds Developing in leaps and bounds

Seequent first released Leapfrog Geothermal, developed in collaboration with the New Zealand geothermal industry, in January 2010.

Leapfrog Geothermal is a workflow-based solution that uses implicit modelling to build surfaces directly from data, while subsurface professionals use their skill and interpretation to guide the process.

The solution is used from exploration to field operation, from early geology models and geophysical models of exploration prospects to long-term reservoir development scenarios. 

It allows multiple scenarios to be investigated to help decision-making. Leapfrog readily integrates with other geothermal packages such as geophysical software and TOUGH2 software code, and is used in conjunction with it to allow stakeholders to make decisions over a 30-year period or more. The goal is to optimise energy extraction while maintaining the renewability of the resource. 

New release

Leapfrog Geothermal 3.4 released in September is the second phase in a major development programme to provide a unified sub-surface solution for the geothermal industry. Leapfrog Geothermal 3.4 contains new functionality specifically designed for the geothermal industry.

Features of Leapfrog Geothermal 3.4 include support for IDW (inverse distance weighted) isosurfacing of geophysical gridded data and improvements to the TOUGH2 workflow. The release further enhances major features introduced in 3.3, including time-based visualisation of geophysical point data, the new geophysical data folder, and further develops interaction with model management platform Leapfrog Central.

Jeremy O'Brien, geothermal business manager at Seequent, comments: "We increased capacity in the geothermal team this year to boost our development, sales and support teams - as the geothermal industry continues to grow.

"This year we've had two major releases and added time-dependent data capabilities and a range of other features as part of a wider theme. Geophysics, flow simulation and well planning are an ongoing focus - and we're working to further strengthen capabilities in those areas."


When it comes to geothermal exploration, traditionally models were in 2-D. From day one Leapfrog Geothermal allows users to evaluate resources in 3-D.

Visualising in a 3-D environment allows users to better analyse the data, see environmental constraints and to make better decisions around drilling. The software has a dedicated well planning tool that allows users to understand the likely results for potential wells rapidly. This allows multiple locations and trajectories to be considered in the well planning process.

Drilling in a geothermal setting has specific challenges; wells often have less drill data available, and rely on geophysical data for building models. Leapfrog Geothermal helps give integrated geoscientific data vision to better plan wells and field management strategies.

Seequent's product director Brennan Williams explains: "Leapfrog Geothermal helps stakeholders see the bigger picture. Our customers often deal with limited data, so it's important we're able to help them readily incorporate geophysics such as MT [magnetotelluric] data to inform the reservoir conceptual model and make critical decisions.

"Once models are developed, multiple parameters can be explored and evaluated. If a model has rocks, physics, temperature and chemistry, it is possible to identify the best possible location."

Risk management

One of the biggest risks in geothermal projects is the upfront cost of exploration and how to communicate that risk.

Applying industry best practices in exploration and development, and using 3D software creates a platform for subsurface professionals, stakeholders and decision-makers to be on the same page.

According to Seequent, the key value proposition of Leapfrog Geothermal is that it helps turn complexity into clarity with 3-D models and visualisations that improve geothermal understanding.  This clarity drives decision-making throughout the lifecycle of geothermal development. Senior executives and subsurface professionals use this understanding to confidently make critical time-sensitive investment and environmental decisions. These decisions bring meaning, extract value, and reduce risk, cost and time.

 Krafla geothermal field of north-east Iceland

Scientists are planning to drill into the magma chamber of an Icelandic volcano, to reduce volcanic risk and improve geothermal energy extraction. University of Canterbury scientists working on the project are studying the ancient magma chambers, exposed by erosion, to inform the drilling plan.

Detailed descriptions using 3-D imaging are helping them describe the processes that might occur when drilling into magma, including fluid flow around the magma chambers.  Using Leapfrog Geothermal, this work is being combined with other geological, geophysical, and geochemical data to help scientists know exactly where to drill to find magma.

Contact Energy, Wairakei, New Zealand

Leapfrog Geothermal is also used in the operation of some of the oldest geothermal assets in the world, such as Wairakei in New Zealand operated by Contact Energy.

Contact Energy's reservoir strategy manager Warren Mannington says: "The ongoing development of Leapfrog Geothermal continues to match our business needs. Contact Energy uses Leapfrog Geothermal as our primary 3-D visualisation tool and it greatly adds to our understanding of the geothermal system.

"We have worked closely with Seequent (formerly ARANZ Geo). and they are in tune with the requirements of the geothermal community. Their development programme continues to add valuable functionality that gives us greater insight or improves workflow.  In particular the new time dependent function for numeric data will be a very useful addition for our reservoir management.  We currently visualise our microseismic data in Leapfrog; however, the new release will improve our workflows and release the dataset's full potential in 4-D."

The Te Mihi power station finished construction in 2013 and added 166MW of generating capacity on the Wairakei field. Te Mihi generates enough to power over 160,000 Kiwi homes and is located on the Wairakei geothermal field, north-west of Taupo in New Zealand.