Carbon capture and sequestration for enhanced oil recovery

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A project to capture carbon dioxide emissions from a coal-fired power plant in Texas has captured more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide for use in enhanced oil recovery, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Historically, carbon dioxide resulting from the combustion of coal and other fossil fuels has been emitted directly into the atmosphere, but global concern over climate change has led to efforts to limit carbon emissions to the atmosphere.  While many of these programs focus on reducing reliance on combustible fuels, carbon capture and sequestration technologies offer the potential to remove carbon dioxide from thermal plants' flue gas before it is emitted from their smokestacks.  The U.S. Department of Energy runs programs designed to support the development and commercial deployment of these technologies.

The Petra Nova project uses an amine solvent-based CO2-capture technology to remove carbon dioxide from the flue gas of NRG's coal-fired W.A. Parish power plant.  It is a 50/50 joint venture between NRG and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration.  NRG describes Petra Nova as "the world's largest post-combustion carbon capture facility installed on an existing coal-fueled power plant."  The Department of Energy selected Petra Nova to receive $190 million as part of the Clean Coal Power Initiative Program.

The project uses a carbon capture process which was jointly developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Kansai Electric Power Co.  It was designed to capture about 90 percent of the CO2 from a 240 MW slipstream of flue gas, compressing and transporting approximately 1.4 million metric tons of CO2 per year through an 80 mile pipeline to Hilcorp's operating West Ranch oil field where it is utilized for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) -- injecting the CO2 underground to help additional oil flow to a production wellbore.  According to the Department of Energy, the use of this CO2 for enhanced oil recovery has boosted the West Ranch Oil Field's oil production from 300 barrels per day to about 4,000 barrels per day.

Petra Nova began commercial operations on January 10, 2017. According to an October 23 press release, Petra Nova has now captured more than 1 million tons of CO2 for use in enhanced oil recovery. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has said that Petra Nova's success "could become the model for future coal-fired power generation facilities," which could support CO2 pipeline infrastructure development and drive domestic enhanced oil recovery opportunities.

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