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Weyburn Project Successfully Sequesters 5M Tons of CO2 in Oilfield, Enhances Recovery

15 November 2005

The CO2 pipeline route from synfuels plant to oilfield.

DOE Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) co-funded Weyburn Project successfully sequestered five million tons of CO2 into the Weyburn Oilfield in Saskatchewan, Canada, while doubling the field’s oil recovery rate.

The CO2 used in the project is piped from the Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah, ND, and is a byproduct of the plant’s coal gasification process.

The International Energy Agency has estimated that wide-spread deployment of the Carbon Sequestration-Enhanced Oil Recovery (CO2-EOR) methodology used in the Weyburn Project could eventually store 130 billion metric tons of CO2 worldwide.

Geological sequestration of the type represented by the Weyburn project is one of the two main avenues being explored for the long-term storage of CO2, the other being deep ocean storage.

In the first phase of the Weyburn project carbon dioxide was injected into the Weyburn Oilfield in Saskatchewan, Canada. The CO2 increased the underground pressure of the field and reduced the viscosity of the remaining oil to help more of it to the surface.

The project increased the field’s oil production by an additional 10,000 barrels per day and demonstrated the technical and economic feasibility of permanent carbon sequestration: the capture and permanent storage of carbon dioxide in geologic formations.

The estimated production impact of CO2 flooding on the Weyburn field

Primary oil recovery, which uses natural underground pressure to bring oil to the surface, typically produces only 10% of an oilfield’s reserves. In secondary efforts, operators flood the field with water to force the oil into the wellbore and increase recovery to 20% to 40%.

Enhanced oil recovery (EOR), the technique used in the project, has the potential to increase an oil field’s ultimate oil recovery up to 60%, according to the DOE, and extend the oilfield’s life by decades.

The project team expects that 50% of the CO2 will remain locked up with the oil that remains in the ground. The 50% that comes to the surface with the produced oil will come out of solution as the pressure drops and be recycled back to the injection wells.

Scientists involved in the project estimate that, by using knowledge gained from the Weyburn Project, the Weyburn Oilfield could remain viable for another 20 years, produce an additional 130 million barrels of oil, and sequester as much as 30 million tons of CO2.

Before the Weyburn Project, much of the CO2 used in similar U.S. EOR projects has been taken at considerable expense from naturally occurring reservoirs. Using an industrial source of CO2—such as the from the synfuels plant—sequesters this emission that would normally be vented into the atmosphere.

The Weyburn Project now moves into a second phase in which researchers will compile a best practices manual to serve as a reference in the design and implementation of CO2 sequestration in conjunction with enhanced oil recovery projects.

They will also 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.

The Weyburn CO2 Storage and Monitoring Project is a multinational effort led by Canada’s Petroleum Technology Research Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan, and cosponsored by the oilfield operator, EnCana Corporation of Calgary, Alberta. The project receives funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as industry and government organizations in Canada, Japan, and the European Commission.


November 15, 2005 in Canada, Climate Change, Oil | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)


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5 down and 130,000 to go, megatons that is. Firstly an observation that coal deposits and oilfields are not normally close by. Secondly a question; if the pumping effort had to paid for in the synfuel price how much extra would it cost? Third; how will the CO2 be captured from the extra oil?

In the western US coal and oil fields are often located in the same regions, though that hardly matters with CO2 sequestration as the carbon dioxide is a byproduct of coal combustion or gasification, rather than coal mining.

Is there a mixed blessing here? What if this new technology increases oil production to such an extent that it renders peak oil a nonreality for several decades or longer? Unless this is a very expensive techology, this could stave off high prices and encourage even more use of petroleum which would in turn increase the production of CO2. In which case, we would be back to square one.

I don't see anything on the horizon that can sequester CO2 in automobiles, so what have we really gained vis a vis global warming.

As long as supply is not constrained, humanity will take the typical route, consumption like hell until supply becomes a problem again.

We could always try to use less CO2 producing energy. There are 1000 different ways to do it. Sweeden, a northern industrial country, is planning to stop using fossil fuel by 2020.

If Americans & Canadians would reduce their energy per capita consumption to the western European level (-60%) we could almost stop importing CRUDE OIL and reduce CO2 emission proportionnally.

Switching from fossil fuel to corn derived ethanol will not help much because it is not efficient, not sustainable and creates too many other long term problems.

Beside using less energy we could use CLEANER energy from Hydro, Wind, Sun and even Nuclear and leave COAL where it is until we find how to use it without creating massive pollution problems.

We could also start eating less energy by reducing our daily food intake from 3600 cal. (about 3.6 KWh) to 2400 Cal. (about 2.4 KWh)and we would all feel better and healthier. A direct saving of up to 300 million KWh per day by avoiding eating abuses would have a direct impact on energy required to produce the excess food, specially meat, milk and manufactured food products. Secondly, leaner people cost less to transport, to clothe, to care for etc.

We have created the energy crisis with our over-consumption but we can certainly reverse the process by finding (and using) ways to consume it more efficiently and sparingly.

Consur with Harvey D. Also, I think we need a massive R&D effort to create very tiny people, who will drive very tiny cars and live in very tiny houses.

A major improvement could be had if we all became vegetarians. A major problem, at least half as bad as CO2 is all the methane created as a byproduct of meat production.

But noooo!! As long as there is the perception that there's plenty of supply, we will continue business as usual. Letting gas prices go back to their current level was a big mistake. Instead, we are jerking around with so called incentives to industry and a process to sequester CO2 in tandem with creating even more fossil fuel.

Even with Peak Oil, if it happens soon, we will mainly try to replace oil with coal since it is so abundant here in the U.S.

Without a moratorium on new fossil fuel driven power plants, including in China, everything else we do is pretty much pissing in the wind, or the hurricane if you will.

Tom: It is a fact that we eat 33% more Cal. than we realy need and much more than the average western European. We are not taller but our waist-line is getting much larger year after year. We are the by-product of over-consumption.

Energy over-consumption has been part of our daily life for a long time. We stopped worrying about energy efficiency many years ago because it was so cheap and pollution awareness is recent. Americans and Canadians live in a land of plenty where bigger is too often considered better.

Lobbies being what they are, reversing acquired fixations will not be easy for many of us. That's why I'm in favour of progressively raising the taxes on fossil fuel by 10X to match the western Europe level.

This is probably one of the most DANGEROUS ideas I've ever seen, second only to the deep ocean CO2 storage.

See, there's this little problem with the concept.. and it's called "plate tectonics." Sure, carbon dioxide sequestration sounds good at first, we're keeping a "greenhouse gas" out of the atmosphere and all, Right? The problem is when something outside of our ability to plan for adequately happens to "pop" one of these little underground balloons.

The planet is going through an increasingly active seizmic cycle. There have been 6,000 undersea volcanic eruptions recorded this year alone. Serious earthquakes have been occurring a bit more heavily than normal. In the US alone, we have 5 major volcanos that are on the eruption watch list.. including one, the Yellowstone Caldera, that is capable of potentially devastating vast portions of the US. (they don't call it a "supervolcano" for nothing, folks.)

Well, if this practice of co2 sequestration is done widespread, we're simply creating timebombs. Let me illustrate with a little story from 1986..

Lake Nyos, Cameroon.. a magma pocket deep underneath Lake Nyos seeps C02 into the water, saturating it. At 9:30pm, August 12, 1986, Lake Nyos "Erupted"... the massive plume of released C02 and water vapor killed over 1700 people, thousands of cattle, and untold numbers of other animals before it dispersed. Scientists recommended putting large concrete tubes running down to the bottom to help the C02 reach the surface...

And we're planning on DELIBERATELY creating these conditions??? Are these people mad?

Any massive earthquake, magma upsurge, undersee volcano eruption, etc could potentially "crack the egg" holding this sequestered gas under the surface. If we're eventually storing "130 billion metric tons of CO2 worldwide" then what happens the first time we get a "seizmic ripple"... you know, those lovely little things where a really large volcano or earthquake goes off and sets off a chain of quakes and eruptions all around the globe? The catastrophe is bad enough without dropping a few billion metric tons of invisible death onto unsuspecting people.

Good intentions, FREAKISHLY bad idea.

No it's not a bad idea, because fault lines are geographically isolated. There are plenty of areas where you don't have to worry about earthquakes or volcanoes. I'm sure that they took the earthquake potential of the area into account.

Carbon dioxide is a special molecule like H2O. CO2 is readily soluble in water and hydrocarbons especially at the high pressures at the injection points (>1000 psig). The pressure of the injected CO2 will diminish as it solublizes in water, much of it will later precipitate as carbonates with the calcium, magnesium etc. that is in the water within the formation. The rock formation at Weyburn is limestone. The hydrocarbons left behind after oil extraction stops, will also adsorb significant amounts of CO2 as well. I think technology like this is the best near term solution for large final emitters (LFEs, i.e. the big stacks), until an energy economy based on electrons protons (hydrogen), and biofuels arrives.
“… , trigger mechanism of the limnological catastrophes, who be happened in CAMEROON on lake "MONOUN" in 1984 and on lake "NYOS" in 1986 , was switched on by influence of the atmospheric precipitations in 1983.
Limnological catastrophes on lake "MONOUN" in 1984 and on lake "NYOS" in 1986, were caused by the instantaneous ejections of the gaseous carbon dioxide from the sediment stratums under the lake’s bottom.
The Degassing the waters of the lakes "NYOS" and "MONOUN" can not prevent from the repetition in lakes "NYOS" and "MONOUN" of the limnological catastrophes, similar to the catastrophes of 1984 and of 1986 , in which the trigger mechanism was switched on by the influence of the atmospheric precipitations.
Under influence of the atmospheric precipitation the trigger mechanism of the the limnological catastrophes in the lake "Nyos" and the "Monoun" , in any time may to be switched on and in a certain time hereon will happen of the limnological catastrophes.”


The Reduction into 20 metres of the water level in the lake "Nyos" significantly magnifies probability of the mortal catastrophe in contrast with probability of the catastrophe in the natural conditions. The strengthening the existing dam (without reduction of the water level) on the lake "Nyos" does not magnify probability of the catastrophe.

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