Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Greenhouse gas is Big Oil boon

With enough CO2 injected into declining oil fields, the US could see its petroleum reserves quadruple.

Gazing across a rejuvenated old West Texas oil field, Larry Adams sings the praises of carbon dioxide.

That might seem odd. The gas is linked to global warming, which has prompted calls from governments and environmentalists alike to reduce oil use. But here at the SACROC field in America's fading oil belt, CO2 is providing the boost the industry needs.

By pumping the greenhouse gas deep underground, oil companies are squeezing out more oil and providing new life to fields that have been declining for decades. But if the companies can capture the carbon dioxide that other industries produce, then the greenhouse gas may become cheap and plentiful enough to be a boon to Big Oil.

"This process of using CO2 for enhanced oil recovery is just a niche today, but if other man-made sources became available, it could become a boom," says Mr. Adams, CO2 engineering manager for Kinder Morgan, the nation's largest transporter of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery or EOR.

The Houston-based company mines most of its CO2 from natural deposits in Colorado. It pipes the gas to West Texas oil fields where it is injected a mile beneath the surface. Despite steady growth in EOR production since 2000, it accounts for only about 5 percent of US production – some 240,000 barrels a day....

From the Christian Science Monitor