Geothermal Exploration & Sales

Geothermal Tenures

The Geothermal Resources Act defines a geothermal resource as the natural heat of the earth and all substances that derive an added value from it. This includes steam, water and water vapour heated by the natural heat of the earth and all substances dissolved in the steam, water, or water vapour obtained from a well. It does not include hydrocarbons or water that has a temperature less than 80ºC at the point where it reaches the surface.

All geothermal resources are vested with the government of British Columbia. The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation issues and administers geothermal resource rights on behalf of the government of British Columbia and, with other provincial agencies, regulates exploration and drilling activities.

There are two types of geothermal tenure:

  1. Permit: A time-limited, exclusive right to explore a specific area, with set terms and conditions. Permits are for one year and may be renewed up to seven times.
  2. Lease: Issued only after a permittee drills a geothermal well within a permit area and submits a satisfactory development plan for the location. Leases are issued for a 20-year term and may be renewed.

Sales Process

Request Geothermal Exploration Permit

A company or individual can request an exploration permit for Crown geothermal tenure land. The holder of the permit has an exclusive right to explore for geothermal energy by drilling wells.

Pre-tenure referral

Prior to making a permit available, the Ministry will conduct a pre-tenure referral process with provincial agencies, ministries, local governments and First Nations to identify local values and overlapping land uses. The pre-tenure review process ensures that potential bidders are aware of environmental and land-use issues and allows them to carefully plan their exploration activities.

Tenure disposition (sale)

Geothermal exploration permits are issued through a sealed bid public competition. Prior to the sale, a public notice is published in the BC Gazette, outlining all the terms of the permit tenure disposition and specific tenure terms and caveats. The tenure terms and caveats may arise as a result of the pre-tenure referral process. Bids are opened on sale day and evaluated according to the criteria outlined in the public notice. The successful bidder’s name is released shortly after the sale has concluded through a notice posted to this website.


Once a project proponent receives the geothermal exploration permit for the tenure location, they may apply through FrontCounter BC for a land-use permit under the Land Act. This permit allows the proponent to undertake the investigation of the potential geothermal resource.