Geothermal Waters in Kazakhstan: Subsoil or Water?
Kazakhstan is rich in different types of renewable energy, and geothermal resources are not an exception. In order to extract heat or electricity from geothermal resources, the hot water is pumped out of the deep subsoil and the heat is extracted using a heat exchanger. However, the legislation of Kazakhstan does not properly regulate issues related to geothermal resources. The question may arise in relation to the law regulating the extraction and utilisation of geothermal waters: where to look at? Whether it is in the Subsoil Use Code or Water Code?
Prior to the extraction of geothermal waters, it is necessary to obtain a license for geological studies. Due to the actual absence of the term “geothermal waters” in the legislation, the concept of “groundwater” comes closer in meaning to geothermal waters because the Water Code states that the groundwater is the concentration of water in soil while thermal water is groundwater with a temperature of over 20°C. Meanwhile, Article 84 of the Subsoil Use Code provides that a license for geological exploration of subsoil gives its holder the right to use subsoil for three years for the purpose of conducting a geological survey and (or) geophysical work, as well as prospecting and appraisal work on groundwater.
Furthermore, in terms of extraction of the groundwater, article 89.5 of the Subsoil Use Code refers to the Water Code and it describes that extraction of groundwater is being led in compliance with the water legislation of Kazakhstan.
Pursuant to the Water Code, the extraction and (or) use of groundwater for energy production requires obtaining a permit for special water use. In addition, the Water Code, clearly states, that the use of water facilities and water constructions for the needs of industry and thermal power is carried out as special water use.