Energy & Technology

Enhanced Oil Recovery Overview

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How does CO2-EOR work?
CO2-EOR works most commonly by injecting CO2 into already developed oil fields where it mixes with and “releases” additional oil from the formation, thereby freeing it to move to production wells. CO2 is separated from the produced oil in above-ground equipment and re-injected in a closed-loop system many times over the life of an EOR operation.

A commercial technology established in North America in 1972, CO2-EOR could more than double economically recoverable U.S. oil reserves. 

Increasing EOR production by using captured CO2 is a compelling and largely unheralded example of American private sector innovation that supports several urgent national priorities:

  • Increase U.S. oil production from already developed fields with reduced risk and impact compared to conventional oil production; 
  • Strengthen America’s national security by reducing our dependence on unstable and/or hostile regimes for our oil supply;
  • Create new, high-paying American jobs, and retain and attract private sector investment in our economy;  
  • Reduce trade deficits by keeping petroleum expenditures at home and at work in the U.S. economy;
  • Achieve significant net carbon reductions by expanding opportunities for oil, natural gas, coal, ethanol and other industries to invest in commercially proven technologies to lower the CO2-intensity of their products.

Challenge: the U.S. needs to capture more CO2 to increase domestic oil production. CO2-EOR projects use CO2 to access and mobilize oil that otherwise would not be produced using conventional technologies.  One study states that with an increase in CO2 supply and by applying existing best practices, CO2-EOR has the potential to add as much as 61 billion barrels of oil to U.S. domestic oil production. 

CO2 capture projects and pipeline infrastructure are needed to meet this demand. Significant amounts of CO2 captured and transported from power plants and industrial sources are urgently needed to boost U.S. oil production through CO2-EOR.   

Support for CO2-EOR is critical to achievement of energy security, economic, and environmental benefits. The development of CO2 capture projects, build-out of CO2 pipeline infrastructure and improvements to existing oil field infrastructure is required to provide the level of CO2 needed to expand the US CO2-EOR industry. 

This requires private investment, and federal and state policies and incentives to support additional deployment of CO2 capture projects and infrastructure. These projects will provide jobs and economic benefits for local and state governments.  At a time when federal and state officials are struggling to reduce deficits, tax revenues generated from new projects can offset the additional cost of state and federal incentives and even increase government revenue over time.

The National EOR Initiative is committed to building a pathway to a secure and low-carbon energy future through expansion of CO2-EOR.  At its launch, the Initiative received bipartisan support from several members of Congress who are monitoring the Initiative’s progress and will receive final recommendations for legislative consideration.

EOR Initiative Timeline:

  • July 2011: Launch of National EOR Initiative and inaugural meeting.
  • August 2011 - January 2012: Ongoing work of industry, government and environmental leaders participating in EOR Initiative.
  • February 2012: Release recommendations. 


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The Bingaman Clean Energy Standard: Let the Conversation Begin

This is the first blog post in a multi-part series on the Bingaman Clean Energy Standard. Read part 2.

When the idea of a “clean energy standard” (CES) was first proposed a couple of years ago, it was viewed as the Republican alternative to both a renewable energy standard and a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program. Many Republicans favored this approach because it included not just renewable energy, but also traditional Republican priorities such as nuclear power, hydropower, and clean coal.

Following the defeat of cap-and-trade legislation, President Obama began to see merit in this approach too. He proposed a Clean Energy Standard in his State of the Union in 2011 and again this year.

In a few days, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is expected to introduce a CES bill. If it is anything like the long line of earlier Bingaman bills, it will be a thoughtful balance of economic, energy, and environmental objectives, and – to those of us who read a lot of legislation – beautifully written.

C2ES Report Offers Comprehensive Approach to Measure CO2 Reductions from Carbon Capture and Storage

Press Release                                        
February 14, 2012
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions’ Framework Lays Groundwork
for Future Energy & Climate Policy Action

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new report released today by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) provides the first-ever comprehensive framework for calculating carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reductions from carbon capture and storage (CCS). The framework equips policymakers and project developers with common methodologies for quantifying the emission impacts of CCS projects.

CCS involves a suite of technologies that can be used to prevent CO2 from power plants and large industrial facilities from entering the atmosphere. The three main steps are capturing and compressing the CO2 , transporting it to suitable storage sites, and injecting it into geologic formations for secure and permanent storage. CCS technology has the potential to achieve dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions from the electricity sector, including from coal-fueled power plants.

“Ensuring reliable, affordable energy while reducing carbon emissions is a critical challenge, and in the years ahead, carbon capture and storage will likely be an essential part of the solution,” said C2ES President Eileen Claussen. “This report provides an important technical foundation for crafting policies to put this technology to work to meet our energy, climate and economic objectives.”

The report, Greenhouse Gas Accounting Framework for Carbon Capture and Storage Projects, includes detailed methodologies to calculate emission reductions at each stage of the CCS process: CO2 capture, transport, and injection and storage. The methods were developed with input from CCS experts in industry, academia, and the environmental community (see report for list of participants). 

For CO2 capture, the report outlines methods for multiple CO2 sources, including electric power plants with pre-combustion, post-combustion, or oxy-fired technologies, and industrial facilities involved in natural gas production, fertilizer manufacturing, and ethanol production. For CO2 transport, the framework focuses on pipelines, which are the most viable transportation option for large-scale CCS. With respect to the geological storage of CO2, the framework applies to saline aquifers, depleted oil and gas fields, and enhanced oil and gas recovery sites.

Worldwide, 15 large CCS projects are in operation or under construction, according to the Global CCS Institute. Their combined CO2 storage capacity exceeds 35 million tons a year, roughly equivalent to preventing the emissions from more than 6 million cars from entering the atmosphere each year. Four CCS projects – three in the U.S. and one in Canada – have started construction since 2010, and three of these are linked to enhanced oil recovery operations. Globally, 59 additional projects are in the planning stage.

C2ES also is facilitating the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative, a group of policymakers and stakeholders seeking to increase U.S. domestic oil production and energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through enhanced oil recovery (EOR) using captured CO2. Recommendations for federal and state policy to ramp up CO2-EOR will be released later this year.

Additional background about CCS is available in C2ES’s Climate Techbook. For more information about the climate and energy challenge and the activities of C2ES, visit


About C2ES
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in November 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, long recognized in the United States and abroad as an influential and pragmatic voice on climate issues. C2ES is led by Eileen Claussen, who previously led the Pew Center and is the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Greenhouse Gas Accounting Framework for Carbon Capture and Storage Projects

Greenhouse Gas Accounting Framework for Carbon Capture and Storage Projects

February 2012

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Press Release

Other Resources:



Meeting the global challenge to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and avoid dangerous climate impacts requires deploying a portfolio of emission reduction technologies.

We must both commit to broad and deep efficiencies in the way our societies’ consume energy and to significant increases in power supplies from low carbon energy sources. At the same time, it is important to recognize that the scale of the challenge to reduce global emissions is massive, and that it will take decades for new and advanced low and zero-emissions technologies to sufficiently mature and dominate the world’s primary energy supply.

Because the use of fossil fuels – including coal – will continue to maintain a central role in powering the global economy for at least the next several decades, the portfolio of solutions to achieve the necessary GHG emissions reductions must include carbon capture and storage (CCS). 

CCS refers to a suite of technologies that, when effectively combined, prevent carbon dioxide (CO2) from entering the atmosphere. The process involves capturing and compressing CO2 from power plants and other industrial facilities, transporting it to suitable storage sites, and injecting it into geologic formations for secure and permanent sequestration. 

Geologic storage of CO2 emissions currently represents the only option to substantially address the greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants and large industrial facilities.


Executive Summary


The Greenhouse Gas Accounting Framework for Carbon Capture and Storage Projects – CCS Accounting Framework – provides methods to calculate emissions reductions associated with capturing, transporting, and safely and permanently storing anthropogenic CO2 in geologic formations. It aims for consistency with the principles and procedures from ISO 14064-2:2006. Greenhouse gases – Part 2: Specification with guidance at the project level for quantification, monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emission reductions or removal enhancements, which represents best practice guidance for the quantification of project-based GHG emission reductions. 

Ultimately, the objective of the CCS Accounting Framework is to inform and facilitate the development of a common platform to account for CO2 emissions reductions due to capturing and geologically storing CO2. It also contributes to the public discussion about the viability of CCS to serve as a feasible CO2 mitigation solution.

The emissions accounting procedures in the CCS Accounting Framework apply to multiple CO2 source types, including electric power plants – equipped with pre-combustion, post-combustion, or oxy-fired technologies – and industrial facilities (for example, natural gas production, fertilizer manufacturing, and ethanol production). For CO2 transport, the calculation methodology in this document applies only to pipelines because while other methods of transport, (e.g., truck transport) are possible, they are typically not considered viable options for large-scale CCS endeavors. With respect to the geological storage of CO2, the CCS Accounting Framework applies to saline aquifers, depleted oil and gas fields, and enhanced oil and gas recovery sites.

The CCS Accounting Framework provides a comprehensive set of GHG accounting procedures within a single methodology. The quantification approach includes equations to calculate emissions reductions by comparing baseline emissions to project emissions – the difference between the two represents the GHG reductions due to capturing and sequestering CO2, which would have otherwise entered the atmosphere.


GHG reductions from CCS project = Baseline emissions - Project emissions

  • Baseline emissions represent the GHG emissions that would have entered the atmosphere if not for the CCS project. 

  • Project emissions are actual GHG emissions from CO2 capture sites, transport pipelines, and storage sites.

The quantification approach to determine baseline emissions presents two baseline options: 1) “Projection-based” and 2) “Standards-based.” In both cases, the calculation method uses data from the actual CCS project to derive baseline emissions.

Determining project emissions involves measuring CO2 captured and stored by the project and deducting CO2 emitted during capture, compression, transport, injection, and storage (and recycling of CO2 if applicable). The procedure to determine project emissions also accounts for GHG emissions from energy inputs required to operate CO2 capture, compression, transport, injection and storage equipment. Energy inputs include “direct emissions” from fossil fuel use (Scope 1 emissions) and, in case required by a program authority, “indirect emissions” from purchased and consumed electricity, steam, and heat (Scope 2 emissions).

CCS project monitoring covers large above ground industrial complexes and expansive subterranean geologic formations. In terms of emissions accounting, monitoring CO2 capture and transport involves well known technologies and practices, established over many years for compliance with federal and state permitting programs. Therefore, the monitoring program would follow generally accepted methods and should correspond with GHG monitoring requirements associated with the relevant subparts of EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) and other state-level programs.

On the other hand, monitoring geologic storage sites for the purpose of verifying the safe and permanent sequestration CO2 from the atmosphere is a relatively recent activity that may involve new techniques and technologies. While there exists no standard method or generally accepted approach to monitor CO2 storage in deep rock formations, project developers will benefit from monitoring practices deployed over the past 35 years in CO2 enhanced oil and gas recovery operations. Thus, the CCS Accounting Framework does not prescribe an approach to monitor CO2 sequestration, as geologic storage sites will vary from site to site and demand unique, fit-for-purpose monitoring plans. This approach is consistent with the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) procedures for geologic sequestration from subpart RR to EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, which overlays the monitoring requirements associated with the Underground Injection Control Program.


The Dawn of a New Day for Autos

A lot has changed in the two years since I made my first visit to the Washington Auto Show. Back then, gas prices averaged $2.68 per gallon and the Nissan LEAF looked like a “car of the future” compared to the other vehicles on the showroom floor. Now, prices at the pump are 25 percent higher, averaging $3.50 per gallon in 2011, and fuel costs are eating up the largest share of the average American’s income in over 30 years. Meanwhile, the auto industry is adapting their product line to their new environment and cooperating more closely with regulators. The 2012 auto show includes many more alternative vehicles like the all-electric Ford Focus (see picture below) and the Prius V, a 42 mile per gallon hybrid station wagon.

Practical Energy Solutions

The White House Jobs Council recently released its year-end report outlining a plan to strengthen the United States’ economic future. While the tax and regulatory reform proposals are bound to cause disagreements, the Council developed pragmatic recommendations regarding energy’s role in improving the economy. The report recognizes the state of politics and low-carbon energy deployment, while highlighting the economic opportunities—including energy savings, leading emerging technology markets, and enhanced energy security—made possible by transitioning to a low-carbon economy. The Council’s energy recommendations include:

January 2012 Newsletter

Click here to view our January 2012 newsletter.

Learn about the Climate Leadership Conference, Australia's new carbon pricing mechanism, the Make an Impact energy conservation challenge, and more in C2ES's January 2012 newsletter.

The Role of Constraints in Low-Carbon Innovation

Climate change is the global innovation challenge of our time.  That was the theme of a Green Innovators in Business Network “Solutions Lab” in Cambridge, MA, last month co-hosted by C2ES, EDF, Innocentive, and others.  Dr. Andrew Hargadon, a leading expert in technology management and author of “The Business of Innovating,” articulated for participants the enormous scale of innovation needed to achieve a clean energy economy.  “Low-carbon innovation” is about dealing with new problems—carbon emissions, skyrocketing energy costs—that emerge from traditional solutions for making our economy work, such as for transporting goods or lighting our buildings.  Transforming energy-consuming activities to emit less carbon requires that we deploy new technologies that will work with conventional behaviors, and develop entirely new behaviors. 

Eileen Claussen Reacts to President Obama's State of the Union Address

Statement of Eileen Claussen
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

January 24, 2012

We share President Obama’s enthusiasm for homegrown solutions to America’s energy challenges. Without question, America has the resources and know-how to produce more energy at home, strengthening both our economy and our national security. But protecting the climate also has to be part of the equation. If we sensitively develop domestic reserves, get serious about ramping up new energy sources, and push efficiency across the board, we can both meet America’s energy needs and dramatically shrink our carbon footprint.

Even if comprehensive legislation remains off the table for now, we can make important progress tackling these challenges piece by piece. C2ES is working with policymakers and stakeholders on ways to expand enhanced oil recovery using captured carbon dioxide – an approach that can boost domestic oil production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, we’re working with automakers, environmentalists and others on a plan for integrating plug-in electric vehicles into the U.S. electrical grid. We look forward to sharing the results of these and other C2ES initiatives aimed at practical solutions to our twin climate and energy challenges.

Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146

Read the full transcript of the 2012 State of the Union Address

December 2011 Newsletter

Click here to view our December 2011 newsletter.

C2ES's December 2011 features updates from the 17th annual Conference of the Parties (COP17) in Durban, South Africa, policy options for a clean energy standard, a blog post on the landmark new fuel economy standards, and more.

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