CO2-based enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is the practice of injecting pure CO2 into an aging oil well to re-pressurize the well and temporarily increase its production. CO2 Solutions’ technology is well positioned to serve this important growing market.
The practice of EOR has been used for decades, originating in the Permian basin of West Texas, the largest production area to this day. In the process, CO2 mixes with crude oil (miscible phase). This phase has lower viscosity than crude oil which, combined with the increased pressure, flows to production wells, similar to the concept of a CO2 and soda mixture released from a shaken pop bottle.
This ‘fizzy’ mixture of CO2 and crude oil is separated and the CO2 is recycled and re-injected along with further ‘fresh’ CO2. As a general rule, using conventional EOR techniques, for each tonne of CO2 injected, approximately two barrels of additional oil is produced.1 In addition, approximately 30% of the injected CO2 remains permanently sequestered.2
Illustration: Enhanced Oil Recovery using carbon dioxide (3)
Enormous, untapped potential
In Canada, substantial CO2 EOR reserves are located in Saskatchewan and Eastern Alberta. Analysis by the Integrated CO2 Network (ICO2N) reveals that these regions could use approximately 1 billion tonnes of CO2 over the life of the oil fields based on CO2 that could be available from existing local anthropogenic sources.4
In the United States, existing EOR operations consume approximately 50 million tonnes of CO2 annually and produce nearly 110 million barrels of crude oil in locations ranging from Wyoming and North Dakota to Louisiana and Mississippi, the vast majority of the CO2 coming from natural geologic formations.5 According to a recent study by EOR consultancy Advanced Resources International, U.S. production is expected to more than double in 2020 to 640,000 barrels per day. This in turn would require approximately 117 million tonnes of CO2 annually.6
Given declining natural CO2 sources combined with increasing demand, oil producers are increasingly looking at anthropogenic sources, where cost-effective carbon capture technology can provide a substantial opportunity for profitable hydrocarbon recovery. As such, CO2 Solutions’ technology is well positioned to serve this important and growing market.
1 U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory, Next Generation CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery, February 2014
2 Alberta Innovates, Barriers to CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery in Alberta, October 2013
3 Advanced Resources International and Metzer Consulting, Optimization of CO2 Storage in CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery Projects, prepared for UK Department of Energy & Climate Change, November 2010.
4 ICO2N, A Carbon Capture and Storage Deployment Plan for Saskatchewan, September 2013
5 U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory, Next Generation CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery, February 2014
6 Advanced Resources International, Inc., The CO2-EOR Oil Recovery and CO2 Utilization “Prize”, April 2014