Abstract

Energy and environmental questions no longer need to have conflicting perspectives. Solutions to problems in both arenas can satisfy multiple objectives. This paper explores the technical feasibility and economic potential of capturing CO2 from coal- or lignite-fired utility boilers and applying the CO2 to enhance oil recovery in the mature oil provinces of Texas. This capture accomplishes two goals: sequestering a substantial amount of CO2 for an extended period and increasing the efficiency of oil recovery. Previous research has indicated that a primary target of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is estimated at 74 billion stocktank barrels (BSTB) of residual oil. The present study finds that 8 BSTB of this resource is within a 145-km (90-mile) radius of the candidate coal- or lignite-fired plants in Texas. Modeling conducted in this study indicates that CO2 flooding can produce oil that would otherwise not be recovered, at an incremental cost of between $6.00 and $16.00/STB. In addition, probably between 12 and 20 years of CO2 production from the candidate lignite- or coal-fired boilers can be sequestered from these generation facilities. Preliminary analyses indicate that CO2 capture for lignite- and coal-fired plants in Texas may be cost-effective when compared with fuel switching these same boilers to natural gas. From a policy standpoint, it may be desirable to encourage CO2 capture retrofit initially, as opposed to fuel switching, because the former results in overall lower levels of CO2 emissions at a comparable cost. In conclusion, there is substantial potential for using utility plant boiler effluent as a CO2 supply source for flooding and using mature oil reservoirs for CO2 sequestration. Development of this potential resource base may be facilitated by further research and regulatory initiatives.

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