A Free-Market Energy Blog

CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery (a market niche)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- June 24, 2019

“The CO2 helps unlock and recover crude oil from mature oil fields and residual oil zones. We use a good portion of this CO2 in our own EOR projects….” (Kinder-Morgan)

“Many climate activists will have nothing to do with CCS because of its prominent/dominant role in enhanced oil recovery. But here is the Carbon Capture Coalition, with a green eye shade, promoting the very technology to increase American Energy Dominance.” (below)

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a new realm of rent-seeking in the all-things-climate debate. The Carbon Capture Coalition (a revamp of the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative) describes itself as “a nonpartisan coalition supporting the deployment and adoption of carbon capture technology … to foster domestic energy production, support jobs and reduce emissions, all at the same time.”

The mid-2018 remake was the work of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and the Great Plains Institute (GPI), which brought together “a broad and unusual coalition of executives from energy, industrial, and technology companies; labor unions; and environmental and energy policy organizations.”

Think RENT SEEKING. But also think increased oil production from CO2 injection into wells, which dates from the early 1970s when CO2 was commercially extracted in natural gas processing for this use. As explained by the CCC:

Carbon capture was first deployed at commercial scale in 1972, when CO2 was captured from natural gas processing and used for enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) in west Texas. In a largely unheralded example of American innovation, U.S. industry has led the world over nearly a half century in successfully demonstrating large-scale carbon capture across a range of industries, including natural gas processing, fertilizer production, coal gasification, ethanol fermentation, refinery hydrogen production and coal-fired power generation.

Continuing:

To date, captured CO2 has been primarily used in EOR, producing additional domestic oil from existing, already-developed fields, while geologically storing the CO2 safely and permanently in the process. Expanding carbon capture at industrial facilities and power plants will enable further CO2-EOR, but also other forms of geologic storage and the beneficial use of CO2 as a feedstock in producing fuels, chemicals and products.

Kinder-Morgan: CO2/EOR

One company is at the forefront of the CO2/EOR niche, Kinder-Morgan, which describes its activity as follows:

Kinder Morgan CO2 is the largest transporter of carbon dioxide in North America. We transport approximately 1.2 billion cubic feet per day of CO2from our source fields in southwest Colorado to New Mexico and West Texas for use in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects….

On the [CO2-EOR] side, we produce approximately 55,000 barrels of oil per day. . . , much of which comes from our large SACROC Unit [in the Permian Basin of West Texas]. We use a long-term hedging strategy to mitigate the risk of commodity price exposure and generate more stable prices from our oil production.

Kinder-Morgan employs high technology to enhance petroleum extraction:

Kinder Morgan CO2 is a leader in applying advanced technologies for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and is one of the largest oil producers in the State of Texas with nearly 100 percent of its production associated with its EOR, or tertiary, oil operations.

The West Texas Permian Basin, the largest oil field in the nation, is a sweet spot. Continuing:

The company holds ownership interest in oil-producing fields located in the Permian Basin of West Texas, including the SACROC unit, the Katz Strawn unit, the Goldsmith Landreth San Andres unit, the Tall Cotton Field, and the Yates Field.

Conclusion

Many climate activists will have nothing to do with CCS because of its prominent/dominant role in enhanced oil recovery. But here is the Carbon Capture Coalition, with a green eye shade, promoting the very technology to increase American Energy Dominance.

It is not easy being green when “green” involves rent-seeking to help make fossil fuels hum.