Technology: Enhanced oil recovery

Technology: enhanced oil recovery Date: 23/06/10
Technology Definition:Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) is a tertiary oil production stage, which involves flooding oil reservoirs with injected CO2 to displace oil contained within, increasing oil recovery by 7–23 per cent from primary extraction.
Proponents:Companies employing EOR technology for capture on industrial plants (e.g. syngas, natural gas sweetening, coal power, fertiliser, or cement production) and in transport range of suitable oil wells, with existing demonstration size or greater EOR projects, include:Andarko Petroleum Corporation (Salt Creek, USA), Chevron (Rangely-Webber EOR, USA), The Chinese Government (Daqing EOR, China), EnCana (Weyburn, Canada), Penn West Energy trust (Pembina Cardium EOR, USA).


Item Specific sub-criterion Score Evaluation comments
Technology Maturity
1.01 Timeframe to deployment 3 CO2 for EOR is a proven technology, first applied in the early 1970s in Texas, USA and has since been developed constantly and applied in many parts of the world. Due to this, EOR with CO2 can be considered at a commercial stage of development.
Scale-Up Potential
2.01 Scale-up potential 3 In North America where CO2-EOR is most widely employed, The Department of Energy (DOE) estimated around 50 Mt CO2/yr is currently used. Considering most proven wells are in production decline, operating companies and governments a like will seek to limit reliance on foreign oil and gain the revenue from known resources.With this driving CO2-EOR, The global scale-up potential could exceed 300Mtpa if large oil producing countries, such as the Middle East, widely adopt EOR when primary oil production ceases and tertiary extraction methods are needed to extend reservoir life.
2.02 Geographical constraints on the production system 2 CO2-EOR is very specific to location. CO2 source, transport options and associated cost compared to the revenue of increased oil produced determine if EOR is a cost effective way to extend well production life.
Value for Money
3.01 Commercial viability 3 CO2-EOR is an established technology and existing projects prove its commercial viability.There is a large potential for use of CO2-EOR to be used in many of the worlds oil fields however economic feasibility will be dependent on the amount of oil which can be recovered from the individual site, The prevailing price of crude oil and the regional costs of implementing the technology.
3.02 Competitiveness with other emerging technologies 3 EOR technology can be implemented using CO2, water or nitrogen as the transmission fluid and there is potential for CO2 to replace the use of water or nitrogen in a number of regions. This could be particularly highlighted in regions where water is traditionally sparse and therefore a valuable commodity.The CO2 storage potential of depleted oil fields following EOR will likely affect demand for the use of CO2 in countries which have a carbon capture scheme.
3.03 Barriers / Incentives / Drivers 2 The main value for money barriers associated with CO2-EOR include:
  • Uncertainty over the amount of oil which can be recovered using the technology;
  • High capital and operating costs of implementing technology;
  • Uncertainty of future crude oil prices and therefore profits.

The main drivers for the use of CO2-EOR are:

  • increased oil recovery from existing resources;
  • extending the useful economic life of oil fields; and
  • capitalising on carbon capture schemes by offering permanent storage of CO2
CO2 Abatement Potential, Environmental and Social Benefits
4.01 Permanence of Storage 2 The EOR process involves CO2 being injected into an oil reservoir and displacing oil to the surface. During this application, more than 50 per cent and up to 67 per cent of injected CO2 will return to the surface with the extracted oil, requiring separation and reinjection into the well to prevent release into the atmosphere. Operating cost through not requiring additional CO2 is also reduced by re-injection. The remainder of the injected CO2 remains sequestered in the oil reservoir, including when EOR is complete and oil production ceases.
4.02 Additional CO2 emissions from reuse 2 CO2 injection per oil displacement rate is very dependant on reservoir characteristic (e.g. size, pressure, temperature, oil weight, etc) so varies dramatically and would need to be examined on a site by site basis.Assuming US grid power dependence to capture, compress and inject CO2 from a point source, for every tonne of CO2 injected into a well, 310 kg CO2 is released from power generation with a carbon density of 0.89 tCO2/ MWh, to supply the CCS chain with 350 KWh/tCO2 injected.Emissions for subsequent use of oil are not included.Edge Environment Case Study Result: 0.51t CO2-e/t reused.Case Study Description: Capture from a coal-fired power station near the Dakota Gasification Plant in the USA, delivered via pipeline to the Weyburn CO2-EOR flood (e.g. surface processing and reinjection power comes from the Canadian Grid).
4.03 Environmental Benefit (Non CO2 abatement related) 0 No additional specific environmental benefits have been identified.
4.04 Social Benefit (Non CO2 abatement related) 0 No specific social benefits have been identified.
Developing Countries
5.01 Applicability to developing countries 2 Through aggressive greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets, Western governments are supporting the development of CCS by funding demonstration projects, with the aim of seeing CO2 capture and storage from industrial applications become economically and technically viable for widespread deployment. CO2-EOR is considered a stepping stone in this process in which revenue can be generated to help support the cost of CCS implementation and operation.EOR is equally applicable to developing nations as its use can be economically viable without a carbon price so could be applied to an oil reservoir anywhere in the world, which is close to a point source of carbon if a return on investment will be generated.