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  • Uday Singh, SeaVar

About CO2 sources for EOR

Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) has been successfully practiced in the United States for decades. But the CO2 used in oil fields for EOR has been exclusively limited to naturally occurring CO2 stored in reservoirs in Colorado, New Mexico and elsewhere, primarily due to the prohibitive cost of capturing anthropogenic (man- made, industrial) CO2.

Why is the use of naturally occurring CO2 an issue?

To begin with, the natural CO2 reservoirs are located far from the major oil fields like the Permian Basin in West Texas. Transporting this CO2 long distances to oil fields is expensive. Furthermore, the reservoirs have a finite capacity, and are being depleted. And demand for CO2 for EOR has far outstripped available supplies from reservoirs. In addition, tapping into reservoirs and piping CO2 to oil fields does risk leaking previously stored CO2 into the atmosphere.

Clearly, it would be preferable to capture industrial CO2 for EOR if it were cost- effective and plentiful. Now, that time has come.

The technology for cost- effective capture of industrial CO2 is now available. And numerous, very large sources of this CO2 currently exist in close proximity to major oil fields. It is finally practical to source this CO2 and use it in place of naturally occurring CO2 from distant reservoirs. In addition, the FUTURE Act of 2018 is now law, and provides a powerful financial incentive for the use of industrial CO2 in EOR and certain other applications (for more on the Act, refer to our recent blog EOR Tax Credits are lucrative: The FUTURE Act- 45Q on this website).

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