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February 11, 2006



I have some trouble with understanding the concept described above. If the CO2 is going to be piped to an oil field and injected underground to enhance recovery of the oil in the field, how will it remain permanently underground?

I am no oil geologist, so my simple minded brain might be missing a few key points.

If an oil field is composed of rather porous rocks with petroleum mixture spread through those rocks at a certain pressure, an oil well drilled into those rocks provides a way for the pressure to be relieved, thus pushing the fluids (gas and oil) to the well and then lifting those up for further processing. Obviously, as more and more gas and oil are removed from this system, the pressure drops and the production falls.

Recovery can be enhanced by injecting a high pressure fluid generally either water, steam or CO2 to increase the pressure. When that occurs, the steam and/or CO2 mixes with the natural gas and oil in the reservoir and all of the mixture flows to the well. The resulting oil, gas and enhancement fluid must then be processed to remove the pressure enhancing fluid, adding some cost, but recovering oil that would not have been available without the pressure boost.

However, WHERE does that enhancing fluid go? I submit that unless there is another expensive step added at the production wells to collect and compress any injected CO2, that it will simply be VENTED to the atmosphere! There is no way to permanently lock the CO2 in the ground if it is being injected into an oil field where there are DESIGNED vents to the atmosphere known as oil wells!

Why would an engineering driven company like a petroleum company think that such a scheme is a technically defensible way to prevent CO2 emissions - I am sure that the engineers know what is going on.

However, BP - like many oil companies - simply cannot get enough of our money. It is not enough to produce the highest annual profit ever reported by a company based in Britain, they have figured out how to design a project that will qualify for US government subsidies (corporate welfare) as an R&D project.

From the above article:
"As a result, the project will depend, in part, on incentives provided in the Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 for advanced gasification technologies. In addition, continued progress on the California Public Utilities Commission's electricity "resource adequacy" procurement policies will encourage this first-of-its-kind facility."


I don't know if I agree with the assessment that it is simpler. If we look at the operations involved:

gasification yield syngas
clean syngas, removing S and Hg
burn syngas, powering combined-cycle turbines

For this process:
gasification yields syngas
water-gas shift to hydrogen
separate hydrogen from carbon dixoide
burn hydrogen, powering combined-cycle turbines

The chief difference as far as I can see is in the syngas processing. Is it easier to separate the pollutants from syngas, or to shift the gas all the way to hydrogen, and then separate out hydrogen, leaving the pollutants in the CO2 stream that you've already decided to call waste?

Come to think of it, if an IGCC plant were to be built with carbon sequestration in mind, depending on the sequestration method, you could omit cleaning the syngas entirely, if you make sure the pollutants end up in the CO2 waste stream (however, you can't do this if liquid fuel production is part of the plant design: sulfur in particular would have deleterious effects on the liquefaction catalysts).

Jim from The Energy Blog

Atomic Rod - I am no geologist either, but I have not heard of anyone in the oil or global warming worlds that disputes that the sequestration system will work. As I understand the process your assumption that the CO2 will mix with the oil is the problem. The C02 does not mix with the oil, it displaces the oil. The flow rate through the rock strata is in the sub-laminar flow regime (very, very slow, Re less than 1) where fluids flowing through pourous media do not mix with each other when brought in contact with each other, but rather one displaces the other. The rock strata is hardly ideal pourous media, so there may be some mixing, but the principle should hold. I spent a large part of my career working on a totally different process which depended on this phenomena and in the case I was using it worked to 99.9% efficieny. I am not knowledgeable as to why the CO2 does not break through when all of the oil is displaced. I assume it has something to do with the fact that you can never recover 100% of the oil from an oil field. See earlier post for an ongoing test of this technique. As pointed out in my comments on that post, this method of EOR has been used in Texas for some time, but the rate of loss of CO2 has never been measured, it has assumed to be at a low rate.

Jim from The Energy Blog

Robert-You are correct, I have changed my commentary accordingly. A rather mute point is that I intended my comments to apply to both processes with sequestration. As you point out there may be a slight advantage to the BP process in that the gas clean-up may be easier or if nothing else, the fact that BP only has to clean up the hydrogen stream rather than the entire syngas stream.

John  A McKenna

This could be some thing more leathal in the end. I hope they know what they're doing! The reason I'm thing like this's when large companies talk in the language that the ordenary people don't understand, it make you think that they are up to something mmmmm


Yep Rod, for once we agree. How are they going to keep that CO 2 from coming back up eventually? And who will moniter that?

Industry self-regulation (no-regulation)as usual is my guess.

The energy deficit from separating and pumping all that cO 2 underground, even if it stays there, makes these schemes uneconomical compared to renewables.

Solar collector based algae fuel sequestration produces fuel to offset those costs, and eventually might replace coal as the energy source. That sort of CO 2 remediation might just work as an effective transition.


The CO2 is sequestered in different formations than active oil production formations. It is not being used as a method of secondary recovery. That is why the places proposed for sequestration are mature oil fields.

The amount of CO2 generated by man pales in comparison to the CO2 and other greenhouse gases released by mother nature. But it make libs feel good to sequester it, oil and engineering companies make alot of money sequestering it, Al Gore-Quada makes money selling books about it, so it is a win win on all sides..


I'm not an expert on this stuff, so I'll ask all of you: has anyone considered the effect that CO2 sequestration would have on the oxygen content of the atmosphere? If the CO2 byproduct is sequestered effectively, wouldn't that be a net drain on the O2 levels? Likewise, wouldn't non-electrolysis Hydrogen lock up O2 into water vapor when burned? I've always wondered how much of a problem this would be if these technologies were widely adopted. How about it? Do I have it all wrong or is there a valid concern?


Ok, now I'm more confused than ever. The wikipedia entry for photosynthesis implies that the oxygen released from plants is derived from water molecules, not carbon dioxide. Is that correct? If so, please disregard my previous post.

CO2 Captor

Anyone aware of world-class experts in CO2 sequestration working in any of the big oil companies?

Mr. Mister


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