In what seems on the surface a little bit of a zero-sum solution, a British researcher has stated that oil recovery using carbon dioxide could be worth £150 billion (USD $240 billion) if acted upon immediately.
By using carbon dioxide to enhance the recovery from existing North Sea oil fields, the new calculation by Jon Gluyas, a Professor in CCS & Geo-Energy, Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University could yield an extra three billion barrels of oil over the next 20 years.
Three billion barrels of oil could power, heat and transport the UK for two years with every other form of energy switched off.
“Time is running out to make best use of our precious remaining oil reserves because we’re losing vital infrastructure as the oil fields decline and are abandoned,” said Gluyas. “Once the infrastructure is removed, we will never go back and the opportunity will be wasted.”
“We need to act now to develop the capture and transportation infrastructure to take the CO2 to where it is needed. This would be a world-leading industry using new technology to deliver carbon dioxide to the North Sea oil fields. We must begin to do this as soon as possible before it becomes too expensive to do so.
Oil is usually recovered by flushing oil wells through with water at pressure. Since the 1970s oil fields in West Texas, USA, have been successfully exploited using carbon dioxide. CO2 is pumped as a fluid into oil fields at elevated pressure and helps sweep the oil to the production wells by contacting parts of the reservoirs not accessed by water injection; the result is much greater oil production.
In addition to enhancing oil recovery, the technique would also push the UK into developing carbon storage techniques and bring them in line with the UK government’s commitments on emissions reductions.