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12/26/2012 02:01 PM     print story email story  

Oil Companies Can Get More Oil and Cut Emissions At The Same Time

SustainableBusiness.com News

Rather than "wasting" all that good carbon dioxide by spewing it into the air, more people are looking at putting it into service.

We're looking at a win-win here. When oil reserves begin to run dry, oil companies can more oil out of the ground by injecting carbon (CO2) into the ground.

That technique, called Enhanced Oil Recovery, uses CO2 as a solvent, which helps get oil out of the ground.

But where do oil companies get that CO2? Why not buy it from a local power plant or any facility that emits lots of carbon into the atmosphere?  
 
Currently, to get the carbon, oil companies actually extract it from underground reservoirs and transport it to wells.

What a waste!

Enhanced Oil Recovery is used for about 6% of US production, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. 

The US Department of Energy released a report saying enhanced oil recovery could store 60% more CO2 than previously thought - about the same amount as 100 years of power plant emissions at current levels.

"These numbers are jaw-dropping," Kurt Waltzer, coordinator for carbon capture at the Clean Air Task Force, told Bloomberg. "What's constraining enhanced oil recovery now is the lack of carbon dioxide."

The process can also be used for geothermal energy. Heat Mining Company is commercializing technology that substitutes CO2 for water to extract heat from deep underground. It gets the carbon from fossil fuel plants.



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