The 2007 IEA's World Energy Outlook report predicts that the world's energy needs will grow by 55% between 2005 and 2030, with fossil fuels accounting for 84% of this massive projected increase in energy demand. An undesired side effect of burning fossil fuels is carbon dioxide (CO2) emission which is now widely believed to be responsible for the problem of global warming. Various strategies are being considered for addressing the increase in demand for energy and at the same time developing technologies to make energy greener by reducing CO2 emissions.
One of these strategies is to ‘capture’ produced CO2 instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. Capturing CO2 and its injection in oil reservoirs can lead to improved oil recovery as well as CO2 retention and storage in these reservoirs. The technology is referred to as CCS (carbon capture and storage). Large point sources of CO2 (e.g., coal-fired power plants) are particularly good candidates for capturing large volumes of CO2. However, CO2 capture from power plants is currently very expensive. In addition to high costs of CO2 capture, the very low pressure of the flue gas (1atm) and its low CO2 content (typically 10–15%) contribute to the high cost of CO2 capture from power plants and the subsequent compression. This makes conventional CO2 flooding (which requires very large volumes of CO2) uneconomical in many oil reservoirs around the world which would otherwise be suitable candidates for CO2 injection. Alternative strategies are therefore needed to utilize smaller sources of CO2 that are usually available around oil and gas fields and can be captured at lower costs (due to their higher pressure and higher CO2 concentration).
We investigate the potential of carbonated (CO2-enriched) water injection (CWI) as an injection strategy for improving recovery from oil reservoirs with the added benefit of safe storage of CO2. The performance of CWI was investigated by conducting high-pressure flow visualization as well as coreflood experiments at reservoir conditions. The results show that CWI significantly improves oil recovery from water flooded porous media. A relatively large fraction of the injected CO2 was retained (stored) in the porous medium in the form of dissolved CO2 in water and oil. The results clearly demonstrate the huge potential of CWI as a productive way of utilizing CO2 for improving oil recovery and safe storage of potentially large cumulative quantities of CO2.
- Carbonated water injection
- CO 2 Enhanced oil recovery
- CO 2 storage