More Carbon Dioxide Means More Oil But Building On That Can Get Complicated

Photo courtesy of Melzer Consulting.
A long line of pipes gathers the flow from wells in a portion of the GLSAU field where CO2 injections are used to enhance production. The field, now owned by Kinder Morgan, has added deeper wells, allowing it to produce from the residual oil zone (ROZ) as well as the main pay zone.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) injected into oil fields is “the gift that keeps giving.” The description comes from David Schechter, an associate professor of petroleum engineering at Texas A&M University, who is researching whether CO2 can be used to coax billions more barrels of oil from unconventional formations.

In the United States, 318,000 B/D of oil production is credited to the injection of 3,443 billion ft3 of carbon dioxide. That estimate is based on a joint study by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the University of Wyoming, which forecast that this technique for enhancing oil production could nearly double by 2018. That assumes a surge in the amount of CO2 captured from industrial sources to meet the growing demand.

Offshore Brazil, carbon dioxide removed from natural gas produced in the Lula field is being reinjected into that reservoir to reduce carbon emissions. It offers a rare test for learning how injecting CO2 affects the output of a young field, and Petrobras has said reinjection will be applied to other large offshore fields.

A growing body of evidence indicates that below the aging giant oil reservoirs in west Texas, is a large untapped layer known as the residual oil zone (ROZ) that could produce billions of barrels if enough CO2 is available to coax crude out of formations with low oil saturations.

Some people working to find ways to reduce CO2 emissions see selling CO2 to increase oil production as one of the only currently available methods to financially justify capturing the gas blamed for global warming and store it.

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More Carbon Dioxide Means More Oil But Building On That Can Get Complicated

Stephen Rassenfoss, JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor

01 February 2014

Volume: 66 | Issue: 2