Weyburn project demonstrates CO2 sequestration, EOR

Nick Snow
Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 16 -- Five million tons of carbon dioxide were successfully sequestered in Weyburn oil field in Saskatchewan while the field's oil recovery rate doubled, the US Department of Energy reported. DOE helped fund the project.

If successfully applied worldwide, the methodology could eliminate one third to one half of CO2 emissions associated with oil production in the next 100 years while recovering billions of additional barrels, DOE said.

"Just by applying this technique to the oil fields of Western Canada, we would see billions of additional barrels of oil and a reduction in CO2 emissions equivalent to pulling more than 200 million cars off the road for a year," Energy Sec. Samuel W. Bodman said.

"The Weyburn project will provide policy-makers, the energy industry, and the general public with reliable information about industrial carbon sequestration and enhanced oil recovery," he maintained.

The project is a multinational effort led by Canada's Petroleum Technology Research Centre in Regina, Sask., and cosponsored by the oil field operator, EnCana Corp. of Calgary. The project receives funding from DOE and from industry and government organizations in Canada, Japan, and the European Community.

CO2 from synfuels
In the project's first phase, CO2 piped from the Great Plains synthetic fuels plant in Beulah, ND, was injected into Weyburn field to increase underground pressure and bring more oil to the surface.

Production was increased by 10,000 b/d as a result, DOE said.

The project also demonstrated permanent carbon sequestration's technical and economic feasibility. Previously, much of the CO2 used in similar US EOR projects was taken from naturally occurring reservoirs at considerable cost. DOE said that using an industrial source sequesters CO2 emissions that normally would be vented into the atmosphere.

Scientists project that knowledge gained from the project will keep Weyburn oil field viable for an additional 20 years, produce an additional 130 million bbl of oil, and sequester as much as 30 million tons of CO2.

The project now will move into a second phase, where researchers will compile a best practices manual to serve as a reference in the design and implementation of CO2 sequestration in conjunction with enhanced recovery projects.

Researchers also will expand their efforts to the neighboring Midale Unit, develop more rigorous risk-assessment modeling techniques, improve injection efficiencies, and monitor CO2 flooding and storage with a variety of methods, including seismic wave technologies and geochemical surveys, DOE said.

Contact Nick Snow at nsnow@cox.net.

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