Energy & Technology

Enhanced Oil Recovery Safety

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Where does the CO2 come from and where does it go? Today, most of the CO2 used in EOR operations is from natural underground ‘domes’ of CO2. With the natural supply of CO2 limited, man-made CO2 from the captured CO2 emissions of power plants and industrial facilities can be used to boost oil production through EOR.

Once CO2 is captured, it is compressed and transported by pipeline to oil fields. During EOR operations, CO2is injected into the oil formation where it mixes with the oil and helps move the oil through the formation and to the production wells. CO2 that emerges with the oil is separated and re-injected into the formation. CO2-EOR projects resemble a closed-loop system where the CO2 is injected, produces oil, is stored in the formation, or is recycled back into the injection well.

Is CO2-EOR safe? CO2 is non-flammable and nonexplosive. It is not defined as a hazardous substance, but a Class L, highly volatile, nonflammable/nontoxic material (CFRg, CFRe, Appendix B, Table 4). (WRI, 2008)

Operating for 40 years, CO2 pipelines have an excellent safety record with no serious injuries  or fatalities ever reported. Today there are over 3,900 miles of pipeline transporting CO2 for EOR use at wells producing 281,000 (MIT 2011) barrels of oil per day. The industry has operated for decades under existing policy and regulatory oversight at the local, state and federal level.

Geologic storage of CO2 is also regulated under existing policies and regulations. CO2 is contained by a series of physical and chemical trapping mechanisms over time. Most formations that hold oil for thousands of years also have the ability to contain CO2. As an example, research by the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology’s Gulf Coast Carbon Center on the SACROC oil field, where CO2 has been injected for EOR since 1972, has found no evidence of CO2 leakage (TBEG). Experience from this decades-old CO2-EOR project and current commercial-scale CO2-EOR projects today shows that CO2-EOR can be performed in a manner that is safe for both human health and the environment.

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Enhanced Oil Recovery Economic & Job Benefits

Does Increasing CO2-EOR Create Jobs? Yes. Workers will be needed across the full CO2-EOR value chain: from building and operating CO2 capture systems at power plants and other industrial facilities, to constructing new pipeline networks to transport CO2, to retrofitting and giving new life to existing oil fields.

For example:

  • The Kemper County Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle project in Mississippi, a new plant currently under construction, will create around 300 permanent jobs from power plant and supply chain operations. Employment during construction is expected to peak at 1,150 and average 500 jobs over a 3.5 year construction period. (DOE, 2010)
  • The 2010 Midwest CO2 Pipeline Feasibility Study included an analysis of job creation prepared by Northern Illinois University (NIU) on a proposed Midwest pipeline – which would transport manmade CO2 captured from coal gasification plants in Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky to the Gulf Coast. NIU stated the pipeline construction would create over 3,500 local jobs over a four year construction period and over 2,000 jobs from indirect economic activity. (Lewis and Bergeron, 2009)
  • The Wyoming Grieve Field project (Fladager, 2011), a small-scale CO2-EOR project that has been approved for construction, will generate more than 50 construction jobs to revitalize and return an aging oil field to service. It will also add five to ten operations jobs and produce 12 to 24 million barrels of additional oil that will inject millions of dollars into Wyoming’s economy through taxes, royalties, and local purchasing.

Does Increasing CO2-EOR Stimulate the Economy? Yes. CO2-EOR will create and preserve high-quality jobs and enable states and local governments to realize additional revenue, inject millions of dollars into local businesses, and reduce oil imports and trade imbalances.

Recent estimates by the U.S. Carbon Sequestration Council (Carter, 2011) show that expanded CO2-EOR could provide up to $12 trillion, equal to about 80 percent of the U.S. national debt, in economic benefits to the U.S. over the next three decades, based on the “multiplier effects” of oil production on economic activities. The multiplier effect is the tendency for newly generated wealth to transfer hands and be spent several times.

A report by the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology’s (TBEG) Gulf Coast Carbon Center (TBEG, 2004) quantifies the total economic activity of oil production for Texas to be 2.9 times the value of the oil produced. In other words, almost two dollars of additional economic activity is created for every dollar of oil produced. Moreover, TBEG estimates 19 jobs for every $1 million of oil produced annually.

Advanced Resources International (ARI, 2010) estimates that an increase in oil production from CO2-EOR could reduce net crude oil imports by half and provide up to $210 billion in increased state and federal revenues by 2030. ARI also estimates that a robust EOR policy could reduce the U.S. foreign trade deficit by $11 to $15 billion dollars (2007 dollars) in 2020 and $120 to $150 billion by 2030. Cumulatively, this reduction in oil imports would keep $600 billion here at home, generating additional economic activity, jobs and revenues, rather than flowing out of the U.S. economy to other countries.

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Enhanced Oil Recovery Environmental Benefits

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How does EOR reduce CO2 emissions? Using CO2 captured from power plants and industrial sources to enhance oil production has the potential to help the U.S. reduce its emissions by improving the CO2 intensity of the industrial and power generation sectors. Over the life of a project, for every 2.5 barrels of oil produced, it is estimated that EOR can safely prevent one metric ton of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.3

A current estimate of CO2 use for EOR is 72 million metric tons per year; 55 million metric ton of CO2 come from natural sources and 17 million metric tons come from anthropogenic sources. But the potential for EOR to contribute to CO2 reduction goals is great, as supplies of natural CO2 are constrained. The volume that could be captured and sequestered from industrial facilities and power plants to support “next generation” EOR could be 20- 45 billion metric tons of CO2. This is equal to the total U.S. CO2 production from fossil fuel electricity generation for 10 to 20 years. (ARI, 2011)

Will CO2-EOR harm groundwater resources? EOR is governed by federal regulations that require the protection of underground sources of drinking water, under the EPA’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) program. Many states have obtained authority from EPA to administer the UIC program and have laws that meet or exceed EPA’s requirements. Permits issued by the EPA or states require that EOR operators manage their site in a manner that will prevent CO2 (and other formation fluids) from migrating out of the subsurface confining formation and into drinking water aquifers. ( 40 CFR §144.12)

The University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology’s (TBEG) Gulf Coast Carbon Center has studied the longest running EOR site in the world at the Scurry Area Canyon Reef Operators in Scurry County, Texas (SACROC). SACROC has been operating since 1972 and has injected over 175 million tons of CO2. TBEG has found no evidence that CO2 has escaped the EOR site and contaminated groundwater resources. (TBEG)

Furthermore, the International Energy Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Programme (GHGP) Weyburn-Midale CO2Monitoring and Storage project is the site of the world’s largest CO2 monitoring project. Since 2000 more than 30 internationally recognized research organizations have conducted scientific assessments of the integrity of the geological storage system, monitored CO2 in the deep subsurface, and tested for any evidence of anthropogenic CO2 at the surface.None of the studies have detected anthropogenic CO2 in the soils or groundwater. (Cenovus, 2011)

What is the land use impact? CO2-EOR largely takes place at existing oil fields and CO2 is transported through underground pipelines thus reducing land use impacts.

References:

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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. 

References:

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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

NEW REPORT OFFERS COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO ACCOUNT FOR
CO2 REDUCTIONS FROM CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE
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 www.C2ES.org.

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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:

 

Foreword

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.

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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.

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