CO2 storage in depleted oilfields: global application criteria for carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery

21st December 2009

Topic(s): Carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS), CO2 storage, CO2 utilisation

The main aim of the study was to reassess the likely future potential storage capacity for CO2 in depleted oil fields as part of EOR operations across the world. The study also aimed to identify the key technical, economic and regulatory barriers that may be preventing widespread application of CO2-EOR globally as a means of providing an early opportunity for CO2 storage.

Previous IEA GHG studies estimated the global storage potential in depleted oil and gas fields as up to 1,000Gt CO2, 120Gt of which could be stored in association with CO2-EOR operations. Although therefore providing lower potential capacity than both deep saline formations and gas fields, depleted oilfields still constitute a valuable storage resource with extensive repositories of data and knowledge. Storage operations in oil fields would generally be smaller in scale compared to gas fields and aquifers, but the economic and commercial benefits of utilising CO2 for EOR could in theory provide an immediate driver for implementation of such projects, particularly in a period of high global oil prices. The stimulus of high oil process has led to the increasing development of CO2 flood operations in recent years, including at the Weyburn oil field in Canada which has extended the profitability of that field for the operator Encana.

IEA GHG thus identified CO2-EOR operations as an early opportunity for CO2 storage in 2002. However despite developments like those in the Permian Basin, midcontinental and Gulf Coast USA, and at Weyburn, wide scale global development of CO2-EOR has not occurred in spite of current high oil prices. Furthermore, a majority of existing CO2-EOR schemes have not been designed with CO2 storage as an objective. The aim of this study is to understand why this early opportunity for CO2 storage has not been realised and when or if this might occur.


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CO2 storage in depleted oilfields: global application criteria for carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery


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