Onhym projects

Conscious about the importance of geothermal as an affordable and sustainable energy, The National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM) has started several assessment studies to evaluate the geothermal potential of the country.

Studies on the geothermal potential of the country have made it possible to subdivide the country into several hydro-thermal basins:

  • North-Eastern Morocco Basin
  • North-Western Morocco Basin
  • Tadla Basin
  • Tarfaya Laayoune Basins (Moroccan Sahara)
  • Basins of Errachidia- Ouarzazate – Boudnib
  • Agadir Basin
  • Doukkala Basin

Such a high geothermal gradient, exceeding by far the ones already determined for northeastern Morocco, could act as a stimulus programs (geothermal exploitation) of high temperature aquifers, limited, until now to drinkable water distribution or to balneology.

Parameters Agadir Basin Tadla Basin North-Western Morocco Basin North-Eastern Morocco Basin Tarfaya Basins - Laayoune - Moroccan Sahara
Wells number 60 30 70 90 --
Water temperature (°C) 29 – 32 26 – 47 27 – 54 28 – 55,5 --
Geoth. gradient (°C/Km) GGSA 35 – 60 30 – 60 > 40 30 – 70 20 – 32
G1 > 30 > 30 15 – 68 > 40 --
G1 45 – 70 > 30 < 20 > 50 --
Geau > 45 > 30 > 35 > 50 --
Thermal anomalies zones - El Kléa
- Ouled Téima
- El Gouna
- Fkih Ben Saleh
- Dar Ouled Zidouh
- NE et S de Beni Mellal
- Saïss septentrional - Oujda Angad
- Béni Snassènes Orientaux
- Aït Beni Methar
Water table Turonien Turonien Lias Lias Lias
Depth of the roof (m) 120 - 500 200 – 500 400 - 1000 200 - 1000 500 – 2000
Number of occurences 10 14 24 32 --
salinity (g/l) 0,5 – 0,7 0,7 – 2,1 2,84 – 2,35 0,1 – 3,0 --
Flow rate (l/s) 15 – 30 Artésien Artésien 2,5 – 40 --
Classification C C C A B

GGSA: apparent superficial geothermal gradient; / G1: geothermal gradient between the body of water and the limit of surface influences; / G2: geothermal gradient between the body of water and the bottom of the well; / Geau: geothermal gradient between the water body and the interception level

Map of the geothermal potentialities of Morocco

According to these results, the Zones that can be a geothermal objective, as a first step, are:

  • The North Eastern Morocco area
  • The sedimentary basins of the Southern Provinces (Tindouf and Tarfaya)

In these areas low to medium temperatures (T < 150 ° C) can be achieved with competitive techniques and would be used in domestic heating, horticulture, greenhouse heating and fish farming.

A: relatively high geothermal potential, the temperature can reach 120 ° C

B: average geothermal area, the temperature varies between 90 and 100 ° C

C: temperature between 30 - 90 ° C

North-eastern Morocco assessment study

Moroccan hot line 'MHL' (in gray), in its recent regional geodynamic framework (Frizon de Lamotte et al., 2009). Along this narrow and elongated zone the lithosphere is less than 100 km thick

The project "Study of the Geothermal Potential in North-East Morocco" was launched by ONHYM. The overall objective of the project is to identify and evaluate the geothermal potential over an area of approximately 60,000 km2. The project was divided into five phases:

  • Analysis and interpretation of available data.
  • Sampling and field campaign.
  • Compilation and interpretation of the collected data and Synthesis.

Geologically North-eastern Morocco, is located on a major SW-NE trend area, characterized by recent widespread volcanic activity (14.6 - 0.3 Ma), a thinned crust and lithosphere, geothermal gradients and a heat flux that exceeds 40 °C/km and 110 mW/m2, respectively. This area, called the Morocco Hot Line (MHL), covers north-eastern Morocco, the Middle Atlas and extends to the Alboran Sea, in the northeast, and the Canary Islands to the southwest. The project started in January 2017 and, in 16 months, it made it possible to identify and select 5 areas with potential geothermal resources. Examination of existing data played an important role in the definition of hydro-thermal basins and areas with high geothermal potential. The studied data (structural geology and petrography, geo-physics, stress fields, geodynamic models, temperature, heat flux, and geochemistry) allowed the characterization of geothermal reservoirs in the study area .The chosen approach was to create a methodology to estimate the development of low to medium temperature resource. And favourability assessment based on weighted variables .

Initially, ten geothermal zones were identified and characterized; after the application of the classification criteria they were reduced to five. The most promising areas are all located in the northern part of the study area; some southern regions have several hot springs but their temperature is low. The five best-ranked geothermal zones are BERKANE/FEZOUANE, GOUROUGOU/ DRIOUCH, AREKMAN/RAS EL MA, OUJDA/ ANGADS, and AIN GOUTITIR/TAOURIRT.
In addition, the area of PRE-RIF to MESO-RIF was also considered because of the high gas content in the hot springs’ water, which can give important information on the conditions of the reservoir.

Location of the study area

The analysis shows that the integration of geothermal heat in the refining process allows an energy saving per unit time of about 563 kW. Although this is just an example, it illustrates that energy savings are achievable, both in the agricultural sector and in the industrial sector. The study concludes with the presentation of two tools that are important to promote the use of geothermal resources in north-eastern Morocco and plan the intervention of ONHYM in this area. The first of those tools is the Roadmap for Exploration and Exploitation, which presents a set of integrated actions to b+ e implemented by 2025 to ensure that the geothermal potential of the region is used effectively; they includes :

  • Integration of geothermal energy into regional development strategies for tourism, agricul-ture, industry, and energy sectors
  • Inclusion in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) the technology framework for the national climate change mitigation strategy
  • Creating the regulatory and legislative framework for geothermal energy
  • Setting up mechanisms to support investments in the sector
  • Dissemination and public promotion of the technology, including demonstration on a small scale project.

The second tool is the Action Plan for each Geothermal Zones; each action plan is to be implement-ed in each of the priority areas in order to clarify the existing geothermal potential and/or the im-plementation of projects (table 1).

Electricity production Direct use
Heat in place (TWh,th) Power (MW) Heat in place (TWh,th) Recoverable Heat (TWh,th)
Berkane/Fezouane 131.5 3.9 371.0 46.7
Gourougou/Driouch 2575.0 38.9 3878.0 195.0
Arekman/Ras El Ma 636.6 8.2 1159.0 58.1
Oujda/Angads 152.5 4.3 655.3 83.1
Oujda/Angads -- -- 1436.5 182.8

Table 1 – Probable Reserves, Equivalent to Cumulative Probability P50

Those action plans includes:

  • the implementation of an operating pilot project of geothermal energy in Oujda area
  • cooperation with the tourism sector in the Ras El Ma region to promote the recreational and curative use of warm waters
  • the charaterization of the potential of a Binary Cycle Geothermal Power Plant for the generation of electricity in the Kariat/Arekman region.
  • focusing on the use of energy cascading in the agricultural sector in the Berkane/Fezouane region.
  • putting geothermal resources at the service of local communities (e.g., balneotherapy) in the region of Ain Goutitir/Taourirt
  • Collection and analysis of new information to better characterize the geothermal reservoir and the geothermal fluids believed to exist in the region of Gourougou/Driouch.

Southern provinces assessment study

The project "Study of the Geothermal Potential in the southern provinces of Morocco" was launched by the ONHYM, to identify and evaluate the geothermal potential over an area of approximately 140,000 km2 in the southern part of Morocco. The project is divided into four phases:

  • Analysis and interpretation of available data
  • Field works chemical and isotopic analysis of water and gas, conceptual modelling
  • Detailed study of selected geothermal targets
  • Synthesis

Location of the study area