Enhanced Oil Recovery: Prospects for CO2-based EOR

In an era of increasing global energy demand, high sustained oil prices, ageing oil fields and a dearth of conventional oil finds, it is unsurprising that enhanced oil recovery techniques are now receiving a great deal of attention. As companies seek to make the most of their existing reserves, they are increasingly turning to thermal, gas and chemical enhanced oil recovery (EOR) solutions to maximize recovery rates.

In this first of three articles, we look at the prospects for CO2-based EOR.

CO2 EOR is Used to Produce 300,000 bpd in US

Carbon dioxide (CO2) EOR is not a new technology; it has been successfully utilized in the United States for more than 40 years, sweeping residual oil from ageing fields and thus helping to prolong their life. The rapid development of the industry in the United States during the 1980s came as a result of the discovery of large quantities of naturally occurring CO2 in underground formations in New Mexico, Colorado and Mississippi. Though natural sources continue to dominate the market, industrial (anthropogenic) CO2 sources are growing rapidly and could soon become the dominant supplies for CO2 EOR projects.

CO2 EOR has produced around 1.5 billion barrels of oil in the United States over the past 25 years, while there are now close to 4,000 miles of pipelines transporting CO2 to production sites. Approximately 68 million tons of CO2 is used to produce 300,000 bpd, with the majority of production located in the Permian Basin. The rest of the world remains far behind the U.S. at present, predominately due to the lack of naturally occurring CO2 sources outside of the United States. However, a number of countries are in the process of establishing or expanding their CO2 EOR sectors in the aim of increasing oil production and prolonging the lives of ageing fields.


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