Initiatives

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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January 2012 Newsletter

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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. 

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.

Low-Carbon Innovation for a Strong Defense

As discussed in the first part of this blog series A Strong Defense for Low-Carbon Innovation, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has both the demand for and procurement capabilities to advance the development and deployment of innovative low-carbon technologies. This post highlights a variety of leading businesses innovating and creating new opportunities in response to the U.S. Department of Defense efforts, and some of the challenges businesses encounter along the way.

Strategic public-private partnerships are key to helping the DOD meet its energy goals and present significant low-carbon business opportunities. Employing the expertise of companies, such as those specializing in electricity generation or computer technology, gives the DOD access to specialty skills and knowledge needed to advance innovative low-carbon technologies. Businesses, in turn, have the potential to enhance their competencies through government-funded research and development, or provide new technologies for commercial markets after large-scale demonstration through the DOD.

A Strong Defense for Low-Carbon Innovation

This post is the first of a two-part series on low-carbon innovation in the defense industry. It looks at how the DOD is uniquely positioned to drive low-carbon innovation. The second part in the blog series looks at how businesses are working with the DOD to bring low-carbon solutions to market.

From GPS to the Internet, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has a history of driving the creation of innovative technologies now used every day by Americans. With low-carbon policies a major challenge in Washington today, many clean energy advocates are seeking leadership from the DOD, which is the single largest consumer of energy in the country, to help drive clean energy solutions. Motivated by the need to better protect troops and support its operations, the DOD is becoming more involved in low-carbon technology research, development, and deployment. As stated in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), this work will shape the future commercial potential of energy technologies, as “military installations [serve] as a test bed to demonstrate and create a market for innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.”

Yes, You’ve Come to the Right Place

For those of you who came to our website today expecting to find information and resources from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, please don’t click away. Today we announced an exciting transition. We are now C2ES — the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. In addition to changing our name, we’ve refreshed our mission and strategic approach, updated our website, and made other changes to ensure that we can continue to craft real solutions to the energy and climate challenges we face today.

Yes, a great deal has changed in the last 24 hours. But what hasn’t changed is the need for straight talk, common sense and common ground. Today’s climate and energy issues present us with real challenges — and real opportunities as well. This is about protecting the environment, our communities and our economy. And it is about building the foundation for a prosperous and sustainable future.

Plug-in Electric Vehicle Dialogue

Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are a transformative technology – offering a way to reduce America’s reliance on imported oil, combat rising gas prices, improve local air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly 10 companies already have PEVs on the road, and over the next year or two, all of the major automakers will be offering them.  But to realize the full PEV potential, a broad range of stakeholders must work together.

The PEV Dialogue Group convened by C2ES brings together automakers, electric utilities, policymakers, environmental groups and others to develop consensus approaches to accelerate PEV deployment nationwide.

C2ES Resources:

National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative Participants

National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative Participants

  • Tom Altmeyer, Vice President, Government Affairs, Arch Coal, Inc.
  • Mark Calmes, Vice President-Environmental, Archer Daniels Midland Co.
  • Myra Crownover, Vice Chair, House Energy Resources Committee, Texas
  • Pete DePasquale, Manager, Government Relations, Praxair, Inc.
  • Paul Doucette, Global Leader, Public Policy and External Funding, GE Oil & Gas
  • Mike Eggl, Senior Vice President, External Affairs, Basin Electric Power Cooperative
  • Daniel Enderton, Director, External Affairs, C12 Energy
  • Hal Fitch, Director, Michigan Geological Survey
  • Beverly Gard, Chair, former Senate Energy and Environmental Affairs Committee, Indiana
  • Richard Garrett, Energy and Legislative Advocate, Wyoming Outdoor Council
  • Chris Geraghty, Director, Business Development, Linde, Clean Energy – North America
  • Robert G. Hilton, Vice President, Power Technologies for Government Affairs, Alstom, Inc.
  • N. Hunter Johnston, Counsel, Leucadia Energy
  • Greg Kunkel, Vice President, Environmental Affairs, Tenaska Energy
  • Brad Markell, Executive Director, Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO
  • Dave Martin, Cabinet Secretary, New Mexico Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources Department
  • Jon McKinney, Commissioner, WV Public Service Commission and Chair, NARUC Clean Coal Subcommittee
  • Laura Miller, Director of Projects, Summit Power Group, LLC and former Mayor of Dallas
  • Nolan Moser, Director, Energy and Clean Air Programs, Ohio Environmental Council
  • Mark A. Northam, Director, School of Energy Resources, University of Wyoming, Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute
  • Ellen O’Connell, Market Manager, Tonnage Gases, Equipment and Energy, Air Products, Inc.
  • John Risch, Alternate National Legislative Director, United Transportation Union
  • Doug Scott, Chair, Illinois Commerce Commission
  • John Steelman, Climate Program Manager, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Samuel Thernstrom, Executive Director, Energy Innovation Reform Project
  • Kurt Waltzer, Managing Director, Clean Air Task Force
  • Thomas Weber, President, Jupiter Oxygen Corporation

Observers

  • Kevin Macumber, Enhanced Oil Recovery Manager, Tellus Operating Group, LLC
  • Robert Mannes, President, Core Energy, LLC
  • Mike Smith, Executive Director, Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission
  • Scott Wehner, Senior Vice President, EOR Operations, Chaparral Energy LLC
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