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March 18, 2020

The U.S. Geological Survey has developed a new assessment method to estimate how much oil and gas could be produced by injecting carbon dioxide into petroleum reservoirs. The methodology also includes a way to estimate the amount of carbon dioxide remaining in the reservoir after the production of oil and gas is complete.

Using injected carbon dioxide to stimulate oil and gas production is one type of a process called enhanced oil recovery, which can boost production from a petroleum field that has been producing oil and gas for some time. Carbon dioxide injection is one of the more common forms of enhanced oil recovery because it makes it easier for crude oil to flow into the well and is more effective than using other gases.

Using carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery techniques could increase the amount of oil and gas that can be produced in the U.S. In addition, the carbon dioxide used for the enhanced oil recovery could potentially come from human-created sources. This could reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere by allowing a percentage of the injected carbon dioxide to remain in the rock formation. The carbon dioxide would be stored in reservoir pore space once occupied by petroleum or water that had been produced or by dissolving in oil and water that remain in the reservoir.

Oil, gas, and water separation vessels at a carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery operation
Oil, gas, and water separation vessels at a carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery operation, Horseshoe Atoll, Upper Pennsylvanian Wolfcampian play in the Permian Basin Province in Texas.

The U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 authorized the USGS to conduct a national assessment of the potential volume of hydrocarbons recoverable by injection of carbon dioxide into known oil reservoirs with historical production. This new methodology is both probabilistic and based on prior USGS oil and gas assessment methodologies. It has been applied by the USGS to conduct a national assessment of recoverable oil, gas, and associated carbon dioxide storage that is expected in future carbon dioxide-enhanced oil recovery operations. Assessment results are currently being compiled for publication.

The complete methodology report is entitled “A Probabilistic Assessment Methodology for Carbon Dioxide Enhanced Oil Recovery and Associated Carbon Dioxide Retention” and can be accessed here. To find out more about USGS energy assessments and other energy research, please visit the USGS Energy Resources Program website and follow us on Twitter.

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