Air Products Steam Methane Reformer EOR Project
Capture: Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. (with strategic support from Valero Energy)
Transport and Storage: Denbury Resources
LOCATION: Texas, United States
CO2 capture source: Steam methane reformers located within the Valero Energy refinery at Port Arthur (Jefferson County), Texas, United States
CO2 storage site: West Hastings oil field in Brazoria County south of Houston, Texas
INDUSTRY (FEEDSTOCK): Hydrogen production (natural gas)
OVERALL PROJECT LIFECYCLE STAGE: Operate
CO2 CAPTURE CAPACITY VOLUME: 1 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa)
CAPTURE TYPE: Industrial separation (hydrogen production)
CAPTURE METHOD: Adsorption solid-based process - vacuum swing adsorption (VSA)
NEW BUILD OR RETROFIT: Retrofit (to an existing plant)
CO2 CAPTURE START DATE: 2013
PRIMARY STORAGE OPTION: Enhanced oil recovery
STORAGE FORMATION AND DEPTH: Frio sandstone formation at a depth of approximately 1,700 metres / 5,700 feet underground
TRANSPORTATION TYPE: Pipeline (onshore to onshore)
TRANSPORTATION DISTANCE TO STORAGE SITE (LENGTH OF PIPELINE): 158 km / 98 miles
Approximately 21 km / 13 miles from the gasification plant to connect to the Green Pipeline
Approximately 137 km / 85 miles via the Green Pipeline to the West Hastings oil field
Air Products has retrofit each of its two steam methane reformers (SMRs) located within the existing Valero Energy refinery at Port Arthur, Texas, with vacuum swing adsorption (VSA) systems to separate the CO2 from the process gas stream. The capture facilities also include compression and dehydration equipment as well as a new cogeneration unit to supply electricity and steam to the SMR plants and VSA systems.
The SMRs produce hydrogen, which is widely used in petroleum refining to remove impurities such as sulphur. The hydrogen produced is used by Valero at its refinery and by other West Gulf Coast customers supplied via pipeline. The SMRs are owned and operated by Air Products. Valero Energy is providing additional land and rights-of-way required for the project, as well as utilities support.
Each VSA unit is designed to remove more than 90 per cent of the CO2 contained in the reformer pressure swing adsorption unit feed gas that it would process. The carbon capture processes concentrate the initial gas stream (containing 10-20 per cent CO2) to greater than 97 per cent CO2 purity.
The first SMR began capturing CO2 in December 2012, the second in March 2013. When operating at full capacity both plants capture approximately 1 Mtpa of CO2.
The captured CO2 is transported within Jefferson County through a 21 km / 13 mile, 8-inch diameter pipeline connector where it will tie into Denbury’s existing Green Pipeline. The CO2 will then be transported approximately 137 km / 85 miles via the (24-inch diameter) Green Pipeline to the Hastings oil field in Brazoria County, Texas (where Denbury owns and operates an interest in the field).
The Hastings oil field was discovered in 1934 and has produced around 600 million barrels over its life (from both West Hastings and East Hastings). Primary production peaked in the mid-1970s and fell to around 1,000 barrels per day in 2009 / 2010. Denbury bought a majority interest in the field in early 2009. CO2 injection in the West Hastings Unit began in December 2010 (upon completion of the construction of the Green Pipeline and using naturally occurring CO2 sourced from Jackson Dome, Mississippi). Oil production from CO2-EOR operations began in January 2012.
Injection of anthropogenic CO2 from the Air Products SMR EOR Project began in early 2013. Oil reserves recovery is from the Frio sandstone formation. The CO2 injection is in a moderate depth (1,700 metres / 5,700 feet) formation with light, sweet crude oil with a gravity of approximately 31 degrees.
To supplement Denbury’s ongoing commercial monitoring activities, Denbury and the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, plan to jointly implement a research monitoring, verification and accounting (MVA) program to study the movement and sequestration of CO2 through existing EOR operations. The proposed research MVA will be confined to a portion of the West Hastings field and will involve the close monitoring of around 1 million tonnes of CO2 injected into the Frio sandstone formation. The program aims to provide a high level of confidence that CO2 injected during existing EOR operations will remain permanently sequestered.
Key project milestones
June 2010: The Air Products SMR EOR project selected to receive US$253 million of second-phase funding under the Industrial Carbon Capture and Sequestration (ICCS) program. The project since received an additional US$30 million (for a total of US$284 million – this accounts for 66 per cent of the total project cost of US$431 million).
May 2011: Air Products announced agreements with Valero Energy for utilities supply and with Denbury Resources for CO2 offtake
July 2011: On the basis of the evaluations in the final environmental assessment, the US DOE issues a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) from the project on the human environment
December 2012: The first of two steam methane reformers begins capturing CO2.
April 2015: The US DOE announces that the project had captured nearly 2 million tonnes of CO2.