State-of-the-art enhanced oil recovery with carbon dioxide, now recognized as a potential way of dealing with greenhouse gas emissions, could add 89 billion barrels to the recoverable oil resources of the United States, the Department of Energy has determined. Current U.S. proved reserves are 21.9 billion barrels. Multiple advances in technology and widespread sequestration of industrial CO2 could eventually add as much as 430 billion new barrels to the technically recoverable resource. Beginning efforts to develop the 89-billion-barrel addition to resources would depend on the availability of commercial CO2 in large volumes.
If this oil could be added to the category of proven reserves, the U.S. would have the fifth largest oil reserves in the world behind Iraq, which has 115 billion barrels, based on present estimates; and an additional 430 billion barrels would make it first, ahead of Saudi Arabia with 261 billion barrels.
Next-generation enhanced recovery with CO2 was judged to be a "game-changer" in oil production, one capable of doubling recovery efficiency. And geologic sequestration of industrial carbon dioxide in declining oil fields was endorsed last year as a potential method of reducing greenhouse base emissions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The findings are consolidated in the February 2006 report Undeveloped Domestic Oil Resources: The Foundation for Increasing Oil Production and a Viable Domestic Oil Industry.
This seams to me to be a little over hype of the subject, it isn't new, just the recent study is new and putting big numbers on it can make headlines, as it has done here. Not that this technology isn't very important, it certainly is, but implementation of this technology is likely to be slow. In my post on sequestration I pointed out that they are using this technology in the Permian Basin of West Texas and we are shipping CO2 produced at the Great Plains Gasification Project across the line to Canada to the Weyburn Project for this purpose. Two BP gasification plants under development one in CA and one in Scotland and the Medicine Bow coal liquefaction plant being developed in Wyoming all are planning to use this technology. It doesn't seem to me that finding sources of CO2 for a significant number of projects would be that difficult. At some time all new power plants should be required to consider this during the site selection process. There appears to still be some question as to whether the sequestration is permanent or will leak to the surface at some time. I read today that the procedure is to collect the CO2 with the natural gas that comes up with the oil, separate the CO2 and natural gas and then reinject the CO2. This answers one of my questions about how the process works. I once worked for a company that had, and is still selling, a cryogenic process for separating the CO2 from natural gas, fairly expensive, but this could be a bonanza for them. Injection of in underground "caverns" is considered doable, but I some think this requires more study before it could be widely adopted.
Is it not useful to use it for EOR if only half of it remains sequestered as some have suggested? It certainly increases our supplies of liquid fuels for which we have insufficient alternate supplies at the present or would you rather pay $100/bbl for oil? We will have $100 oil some day in any event, but couldn't we use some time to further develop alternate technologies? Or will we all perish from global warming if we don't stop developing fossil fuels? I don't see how we could get along without a serious depression and greatly reduced standard of living if we don't adopt a sensible energy policy that includes environmentally sound use of fossil fuels.
New CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery Technology Could Greatly Boost U.S. Oil Supplies,
DOE Fossil Energy Techline, March 3, 2006