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Shell and Statoil to Develop Largest Offshore CO2-EOR Project to Date

The proposed Shell-Statoil CO2-EOR project. Click to enlarge.

Shell and Statoil have signed an agreement to work towards developing the world’s largest project to date using carbon dioxide (CO2) for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) offshore. The concept involves capturing CO2 from power generation and injecting it in into offshore oil fields to enhance oil recovery, resulting in increased energy production with lower CO2 impact.

The project could potentially store approximately 2 to 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 annually in two different fields.

The project will be based on an 860 MW gas-fired power plant and methanol production facility at Tjeldbergodden in Mid-Norway. The plant will be fueled by gas from offshore fields. In turn, it will capture and provide CO2 back to the Draugen and Heidrun offshore oil and gas fields. Power from the plant will serve mid-Norway, and also be provided to the offshore fields, enabling near zero CO2 and oxides of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from these installations.

The various elements of the project will be phased in during the period 2010-2012. Establishing this CO2 value chain is, according to the panters, technologically and commercially challenging. Hence:

The project will hence depend on a substantial Government funding and involvement. The project will rely on the involvement of industrial stakeholders and electricity users in the region.

—Shell and Statoil statement

Shell began working with CO2 for EOR in the 1970s. Statoil is a pioneer in CO2 storage through Sleipner in the North Sea, Snøhvit in the Barents Sea and In Salah in Algeria.

The US Department of Energy recently released a series of reports claiming that the development of new carbon-dioxide capture and injection technologies for Enhanced Oil Recovery could more than quadruple US domestic oil production. (Earlier post.)

Statoil and Shell coincidentally announced their CO2-EOR partnership on 8 March 2006: the 50th anniversary of the speech given in San Antonio, Texas, by a Shell employee, M. King Hubbert. In that speech, Hubbert predicted that US oil production would start to decline by the early 1970s (which it did). That speech marked the beginning of the still ongoing and contentious debate over the finiteness of the global oil supply.

Norwegian oil production in the North Sea has peaked and begun its decline, dropping down 11% to around 2.5 million barrels per day in 2005 from 2.8 mbpd in 2004. (Earlier post.)

The Draugen oil field in the North Sea, one of the participating fields in the CO2-EOR project, was discovered in 1984. Its oil production peaked in 1999, according to figures from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, at an average 209,000 barrels per day. By 2005, that had dropped to an average of 104,000 barrels per day.

The operators currently use water injection to maintain pressure in the field. Water production from the field—which was zero in the peak year of 1999 increased to 103,000 barrels per day in 2005—a composite water cut of about 50%.

Heidrun was discovered in 1985 and peaked in 1997 with an average production of 231,000 barrels per day; production in 2005 was an average 140,000 barrels per day. Water injection began in 2000, and in 2005, the field produced an average of 79,000 barrels of water per day, for an average composite water cut of 36%.

Draugen Heidrun



Vladimir Prutkin

The following is a new technology allowing for the production of film-like crazed polymer membranes, which can significantly increase the efficacy and lower the cost of trapping Carbon Dioxide from all stationary CO2 emitters.

This radically new technology (US Patent 6773590 for production of polymer based separation membranes) allows the user:

• Lowers production cost for complete membrane elements to 10 – 15 times, depending on the type of application.
• Hasten time to market for the new membranes.
• Introduce a new concept of recycled membranes.

These new membranes are built by welding two polymer films together. The active area of the membrane is the area where two films are welded together. The welding area is treated in a special way to achieve certain qualities and enable filtration. We are using two well-known and proved technologies in the industry of polymer production to get the desired effect. These technologies allow us to control the physic-technological processes precisely.

Here is the brief description of the process:
• Using commercially available equipment we deform the polymer film.
• During the deformation process we encapsulate the crazes that were formed, using a special surface-active substance (US- patent 5998007.)
• We make holes for intake and outflow.
• We put two films together insuring the in and out holes are not on the top of each other.
• We weld the two films together.

The encapsulated substance in the formed crazes actively evaporates during the welding process, creating pressure that opens up the crazes. In the result of that it produces microspores (micro spaces) of the desired dimensions. Fazing transformation of the polymer allows us control the desired dimensions.
Membranes were tested in the following conditions. We were separating anisotropic liquids TOLUENE and ISOBUTANOL mixed in 50-50 proportions.

During the testing we have used a few membranes. The membranes were different one from another. The membranes were made from PVC film that was subjected to different surface treatments.
Operated at low feed pressures 0.2 – 1.00 MPa the coefficient of division fell in the interval of between 2.8 and 4.2, depending on the surfaces treatments prior to welding.

Polymer Specific Penetrability
(g/cm x hr) Pitch Btw. Seams
(cm) Total length of all seams
(cm/m2 Permeated Flow
(kg/m2 x D Diameter of holes
PVC-0 0.003 0.5 40,000 0.029 <0.4
PVC-1 0.05 0.5 40,000 0.048 <0.4
PVC-2 0.7 0.5 40,000 0.672 <0.4
PVC-3 0.7 0.1 200,000 3,360 0.1 – 0.5 mm

* Laser minimum spot size 0.1 – 0.5 mm diameter.
** The division was performed at 22 degrees Celsius.

Significant advantages of the new membranes include:

• Controls the sizes of the diffusion channels, allowing membranes to work in a wide spectrum of applications.
• Regeneration is another attractive quality our membranes have. The membranes construction allows for low diffusion resistance.
• Could be produced practically from any of the well-known thermoplastics and compositions.
• Able to withstand pressure very close to that of the actual plastics tearing pressure.
• Encapsulation allows us to add other useful matters into the membranes, giving them new physic-mechanical qualities.
• An even distribution (by volume) of encapsulation of the different matter into the membrane.

In this manner, in order to filter 2.5 million tons of CO2 yearly from smoke emitters, the active surface area of the membrane filter must be at least 3,000 square meters. I am prepared to take part in the development and practical realization of this project and hope that this type of membranes will widen the scope of possibilities of membrane technology.

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