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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