In June Chaparral Energy began injecting CO2 into one of Oklahoma’s giant oilfields, the North Burbank unit in Burbank field. The unit has produced 315,000 barrels of oil, and the entire Burbank field has produced over 500,000 barrels of oil since 1920. The CO2 is captured at a Coffeyville, Kan. fertilizer plant and piped 68 miles to the oilfield. The Unit was waterflooded for over 35 years and steam flooding, surfactant-polymer flooding and polymer flooding have been tried in the past.
CO2 injection is now the dominant form of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in the US, producing 308 thousand barrels of oil per day. This is slightly higher than production from steam injection, which is primarily used in California heavy-oil fields.
Another rags-to-riches CO2 story is a U.S.-Canada cross-border pipeline–no not that pipeline–carrying CO2 from the Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah, ND to the Weyburn oil field in Saskatchewan, Canada. The synfuels plant, which produces natural gas from lignite, was first envisioned in the 1970s as part of the U.S. response to the 1973-1974 OPEC oil embargo. In the early 1980s the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provided $2 billion in loan guarantees to build the synfuels plant, but production started in 1984 just as the price of natural gas plummeted. DOE ended up owning the plant and then selling it to Basin Electric in 1988. The facility has added the capability to produce many economic byproducts including phenol, krypton-xenon, and anhydrous ammonia.
The company started efforts to sell its CO2 stream for EOR in the early 1990s, but the gas did not start to flow north until 2000.
The Dakota Gas facility captures about 3 million tons of CO2 per year, about 50 percent of the CO2 that is produced, and ships about 8,000 metric tons of CO2 daily. The Weyburn EOR injection is expected to enable an additional 130 million barrels of oil to be produced and extend the life of Weyburn field by 25 years. Ultimately 20 million tons of CO2 are expected to be stored in the field.
The CO2 injection projects in Burbank and Weyburn fields reflect the economic advantages of capturing CO2 from industrial facilities that produce a concentrated CO2 stream, as opposed to capturing the dilute stream of greenhouse gas from coal-fired power plants–a more complex and expensive procedure. Incremental oil, of course, also helps the economics.