November 15, 2005

Oil project stored 5 mln tons carbon dioxide

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Five million tons of carbon dioxide,
a gas linked to global warming, was successfully stored in a
Canadian oilfield while doubling the field's crude oil recovery
rate, the U.S. Energy Department said on Tuesday.

The promising technology in the multi-national project
could be used to capture and store carbon dioxide in geologic
formations, U.S. officials said.

"By applying this technique to the oil fields of Western
Canada, we would see billions of additional barrels of oil and
a reduction in Co2 emissions equivalent to pulling more than
200 million cars off the road for a year," U.S. Energy
Secretary Sam Bodman said in a statement.

The project injected carbon dioxide into the Weyburn
oilfield in Saskatchewan, increasing underground pressure to
boost crude oil production by 10,000 barrels per day. The
technique, known as enhanced oil recovery, is used by many oil
companies to keep aging fields productive but typically uses
more costly carbon dioxide from naturally occurring reservoirs.

Carbon dioxide used at Weyburn was piped from the Great
Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah, North Dakota. The carbon is
a byproduct of the plant's coal gasification process and would
otherwise be released into the atmosphere, the Energy
Department said.

The United States is the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide,
one of several greenhouse gases blamed for melting glaciers and
rising sea levels. Legislation to require cuts in U.S.
emissions have repeatedly failed in Congress.

Primary oil recovery uses natural underground pressure to
bring oil to the surface but typically produces only 10 percent
of a field's potential. Secondary recovery techniques inject
water to flood a field and force the oil upward, increasing
recovery by 20-40 percent.

Enhanced oil recovery, the technique used at Weyburn, has
the potential to increase a field's oil recovery up to 60
percent, the Energy Department said.

The Weyburn project is led by Canada's Petroleum Technology
Research Center in Regina and also involves EnCana Corp, Japan
and the European Commission. It is part of an international
climate change initiative trying to find ways to capture and
store carbon dioxide.