Volcano Gas Technology Possible Key to Unlock More North Sea Oil

Cutting edge technology from the United States that uses gas from an extinct volcano to extract more oil from mature fields is to be examined by UK Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks.

Mr. Wicks will be visiting Denbury Resources Inc, an American oil and gas company, whose Enhanced Oil Recovery techniques could be used to obtain a further 17% of reserves from fields in the North Sea which are nearing the end of their life.

Carbon dioxide, which occurs naturally, is extracted from an extinct volcano deep underground near to Jackson city in Mississippi. It is then piped 60 miles to Brookhaven where it is pressurized and then used to force out oil.

Malcolm Wicks said, "The North Sea's fossil fuels are very important to the UK energy mix and the issue of security of supply.

"There is still an estimated 25 billion barrels of oil equivalent left to exploit but full recovery is going to become increasingly challenging and will require some innovative technologies. It's important we fully consider techniques like the one being developed here in the US by Denbury.

"It's vital we recover what is left as sensitively as possible. This project uses pressurized carbon dioxide, which could also be captured from industrial plants, so it would mean a plus for the environment too."

Gareth Roberts, President and CEO of Denbury Resources Inc. said, "We are delighted to have Malcolm Wicks, the UK Energy Minister, visit our CO2 facilities in Mississippi. Denbury's successful reserve and production growth during the last 7 years has been driven predominantly through the execution of CO2 injection and Enhanced Oil Recovery technology.

"CO2 injection has the benefits of recovering significant oil reserves from mature reservoirs that would not otherwise be recovered and the future opportunity to sequester large volumes of man-made CO2 into known reservoir traps. Denbury is pleased to have the opportunity to demonstrate this full scale, safe and working technology to the Minister."

Mr Wicks will also visit the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, from 4-6 May. The Conference, held annually, attracts around 70,000 delegates from across the globe to discuss the most important technological, economic, social and political aspects of the oil and gas industry.

While at the conference Mr Wicks will highlight the UK's leading role in the development of cleaner, sustainable energy technologies; raise awareness of UK Trade and Investment's new Energy Technology Strategy; promote UK supply chain capability to the global market; and generate business interest in working with the UK. He will participate in a number of functions at OTC, including a UKTI-sponsored breakfast program that addresses the energy challenges facing Brazil and Mexico. In addition, he will visit several exhibiting British firms. While in Houston, he will meet with global energy companies, including Chevron Global Technology, Challenger Minerals and OPITO, to discuss UK opportunities for exploration and investment in the North Sea and to learn about their latest technologies, business developments and opportunities for growth.