Remove roadblock to pumping more oilYou pump carbon dioxide into a played-out oil field, the CO2 will stay underground while a lot more oil will flow to the surface. This technology has been boosting oil production for decades — long before anyone was concerned with global warming.
By: Grand Forks Herald , The Jamestown Sun
You pump carbon dioxide into a played-out oil field, the CO2 will stay underground while a lot more oil will flow to the surface. This technology has been boosting oil production for decades — long before anyone was concerned with global warming.
But these days, it faces a problem:
Not enough CO2.
That’s right. There is a process that can pump up oil production, permanently store vast quantities of carbon dioxide and make lots and lots of money, all at the same time.
But in a terrific irony of the industrial age, it faces a shortage of affordable CO2, the very compound whose increasing abundance has Earthlings fretting about rising sea levels and changing weather patterns.
That’s a gap the U.S. should fill. So, a bipartisan coalition that counts oil producers, coal burners and environmentalists as supporters has a proposal to do just that.
It’s called the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative, and it deserves Congress’ support.
“This is the biggest energy win-win our group knows of,” Laura Miller, director of Projects Texas for the Summit Power Group of Seattle, told the Odessa American of Odessa, Texas.
“This could be the largest potential expansion of domestic oil production of any other option on the table while advancing an important environmental technology.”
Enhanced oil recovery dates back to the 1970s. There’s nothing pie-in-the-sky about it: “Today,” according to the initiative’s report, “over 3,900 miles of pipelines in the U.S. annually transport approximately 65 million tons of CO2 that the oil industry purchases.” That’s enough to bring 281,000 barrels of oil per day to the surface, or 6 percent of U.S. crude oil production.
“The EOR industry has captured, transported and injected large volumes of CO2 for oil recovery over four decades with no major accidents, serious injuries or fatalities reported,” the document notes.
But the roadblock to growing the process is “the lack of sufficient additional CO2 at current market prices,” the report declares.
So, the initiative proposes a tax credit. Its purpose would be to build a pipeline network that would transport CO2 from power plants and other industrial sources to oil fields.
Some on the right don’t like the idea because it’s prompted in part by concerns about global warming. Some on the left don’t like the idea because it boosts rather than throttles production of fossil fuels.
But across the spectrum, plenty of others recognize that this is flat-out a formula for Williston-like prosperity that carries a side benefit of sequestering CO2. Both Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., are supporters, as is a bipartisan lineup of others in Congress.
And no wonder, given that if Congress expands the tax credit as suggested, “within 10 years the oil royalties going to the U.S. Treasury from the enhanced oil recovery would more than pay for itself,” said Miller of the Summit Power Group.
And after that, she said, it would be a “veritable gold rush for the federal government over time.”
Said Conrad in a statement, “Our country has tens of billions of barrels of oil that, until now, has been out of reach.”
Enhanced oil recovery can increase domestic production of oil, decrease reliance on imported oil and cut CO2 emissions in a fiscally responsible way, Conrad said. Congress and the American people should agree.