Chilean geothermal company Geotérmica del Norte has requested exploration concessions from the mining ministry to determine the geothermal potential of the El Tatio II and El Tatio III geothermal fields in northern Chile's Region II.
In May 2005 Geotérmica del Norte acquired the El Tatio field from national economic development agency Corfo.
El Tatio II covers 800ha, while the much larger El Tatio III covers 8,000ha, according to the requests from Geotérmica del Norte published in Chile's official journal on Monday.
Chilean state copper company Codelco decided to sell its 51% share in Geotérmica del Norte to Italian renewable energy company Enel in November 2005. The remaining 49% of Geotérmica del Norte is owned by state oil company Enap.
The Enap-Codelco joint venture to exploit geothermal resources in northern Chile was launched in January 2001 as the government sought to diversify its energy supply from Argentine gas imports, which have become increasingly unreliable since 2004.
Geotérmica del Norte also has concessions for the La Torta and Apacheta geothermal fields in southern Chile.
Codelco's decision to sell a controlling interest in the geothermal generation company established Enap and Enel as the leaders in geothermal development in Chile.
Enap and Enel signed an agreement in April 2005 to develop two 100MW geothermal projects in southern Chile's VII and VIII regions, both of which should begin operations from 2010-2012, according to power regulator CNE's 10-year work plan.