CO2 Applications

The mass of carbon dioxide (CO2) use for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and of the subsequent oil produced has continued to increase almost every year for more than 40 years. Most of the volume and growth continue to be in North America, though pilots and rumblings and rumors of additional CO2 EOR projects continue throughout the world. Especially with all the verbiage about sequestering and storing anthropogenic CO2, the talk continues in every corner. Even though the majority of the injected CO2 in North America is natural CO2, the mass of CO2 injected into geologic formations from anthropogenic sources in North America (e.g., coal liquefaction in North Dakota; gas-processing plants in Wyoming and Texas; and fertilizer and ethanol plants in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Michigan) dwarfs that of the rest of the world. This will probably not always be the case as projects come on stream and especially as CO2 becomes available.  The hang-up is the availability of affordable CO2.

The future of CO2 in the industry is bright. Research continues on many fronts. The most appealing is the research to improve the present use in medium-grade-oil reservoirs beyond water alternating with CO2 (WAG), through thickeners, nanoparticles, and surfactants to decrease mobility. Other methods to improve CO2 usage include monitoring techniques to determine location and flow patterns of CO2. New areas are opening up through horizontal drilling with fracturing techniques. Also, research is continuing to consider increased use where reservoir crude and CO2 are not miscible at attainable reservoir conditions, such as in shallow reservoirs or with heavier oils. It is in these areas, where present technologies provide limited recovery, that CO2 application is poised to become a possible avenue for increased oil recovery.

The availability of CO2 is the greatest barrier to many potential CO2-EOR projects. It has been shown that CO2 is always technically successful because CO2 will increase oil production for essentially every situation. The effort to identify CO2 sources and improve capture technology is continual, in order to lower the source cost of CO2 in relationship to the price of crude to improve economics. Work continues to improve our understanding of CO2 recovery mechanisms and to develop strategies to take advantage of the properties of CO2 and crude oils. In addition to EOR, the use of CO2 to improve gas production from gas reservoirs and to retrieve gas from unminable coalbeds continues and should be encouraged.

This Month's Technical Papers

Gelled Emulsions of CO2 Water, and Nanoparticles

Enhanced Recovery in Unconventional Liquid Reservoirs by Use of CO2

Mapping CO2 in Real Time With Downhole Fluid Analysis in the East Irish Sea

Development of Small-Molecule CO2 Thickeners

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 169047 Study of Particle-Structure and Hydrophobicity Effects on the Flow Behavior of Nanoparticle-Stabilized CO2 Foam in Porous Media by Jianjia Yu, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, et al.

SPE 169045 Efficient Experimental-Data Acquisition for Miscible CO2 WAG-Injection Corefloods in Carbonate by Sebastien Duchenne, Total, et al.

OTC 24454 Diffusion Coefficient of CO2 in Light Oil Under Reservoir Conditions Using X-Ray Computed Tomography by S.V. Araujo, State University of Campinas, et al.

SPE 169049 Integration of Reservoir Simulation and Time-Lapse Seismic in Delhi Field: A Continuous-CO2-Injection EOR Project by T. Chen, Colorado School of Mines, et al.

Reid B. Grigg, SPE, is director of the Gas Flooding Processes and Flow Heterogeneities Section at the New Mexico Petroleum Recovery Research Center (PRRC), a research division of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT). He is also an adjunct professor for the Petroleum Department at NMT. Grigg has been coprincipal investigator of the Southwest Regional Partnership on Carbon Sequestration since 2007. He holds a PhD degree in physical chemistry from Brigham Young University. Grigg’s major topic of work for nearly 35 years has been enhanced oil recovery (EOR), with emphasis on CO2 EOR and increasing focus on carbon storage during the last 15 years.  He has authored or coauthored more than 100 publications and serves on the JPT Editorial Committee.

CO2 Applications

Reid B. Grigg, SPE, Director, New Mexico Petroleum Recovery Research Center

01 July 2014

Volume: 66 | Issue: 7