USGS Releases Three Approaches for Estimating Recovery Factors in Carbon Dioxide Enhanced Oil Recovery

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The U.S. Geological Survey has evaluated three methods for estimating how much oil and gas could be produced by injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) into petroleum reservoirs.

The three methods evaluated are:

  1. reservoir computer modeling using CO2 Prophet software
  2. reservoir decline curve analysis based on historic reservoir production data
  3. a review of scientific literature that describes past reservoir production

The CO2 Prophet model was developed for the U.S. Department of Energy by Texaco Corp., and has been used as a scoping and an assessment tool to evaluate potential candidate reservoirs for CO2 injection. Decline curve analysis is an empirical method used to estimate recoverable hydrocarbon volumes by analyzing the plots of the historical production rate against time or cumulative production from a reservoir.

The new report provides detailed analysis of CO2- enhanced oil recovery petroleum field performance and finds that the three evaluated approaches are viable options to calibrate estimates of incremental recovery factors for CO2-based enhanced oil recovery. In addition, the report and three approaches will support on-going USGS assessments of recoverable hydrocarbons by using CO2-enhaced oil recovery techniques in conventional oil reservoirs in the United States.

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 cheaper than most other gases.

Injecting carbon dioxide into rock formations is also one method for preventing carbon from reaching the atmosphere by storing it, a process known as carbon sequestration. The most common method of geologic carbon storage involves pressurizing carbon dioxide gas into a liquid, and then injecting it into subsurface rock layers for long-term storage.

The United States has significant geologic storage potential for carbon dioxide. In 2013, the USGS estimated that the mean storage potential for sedimentary basins in the United States is 3,000 metric gigatons of carbon dioxide. For comparison, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that in 2011, the United States emitted 5.5 metric gigatons of energy-related CO2, while the global emissions of energy-related CO2 totaled 31.6 metric gigatons.  Metric gigatons are a billion metric tons.

Chapters in the report include:

  1. General Introduction and Recovery Factors, By Mahendra K. Verma
  2. Using CO2 Prophet to Estimate Recovery Factors for Carbon Dioxide Enhanced Oil Recovery, By Emil D. Attanasi
  3. Application of Decline Curve Analysis to Estimate Recovery Factors for Carbon Dioxide Enhanced Oil Recovery, By Hossein Jahediesfanjani
  4. Carbon Dioxide Enhanced Oil Recovery Performance According to the Literature, By Ricardo A. Olea
  5. Summary of the Analyses for Recovery Factors, By Mahendra K. Verma

The complete report is accessible at: Three Approaches for Estimating Recovery Factors in Carbon Dioxide Enhanced Oil Recovery

To learn more about this or other geologic assessments, please visit the USGS Energy Resources Program website. Stay up to date with USGS energy science by subscribing to our newsletter or by following us on Twitter.