Environmental Protection

DOE Funds Demonstration of CO2-H2S Injection in Oil Field

The Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership will have another two years of support for testing whether acid gas injection lowers emissions and enhances oil recovery at Apache's Zama Project.

The Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership has been awarded $768,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to continue research demonstrating the effectiveness of injecting a mixture of carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a toxic and corrosive gas sometimes referred to as “acid gas,” into an oil field to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve oil recovery.

The partnership is an initiative of the Energy & Environmental Research Center.

Since 2006, the partnership, which is one of seven members of DOE’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership Program, has performed field tests at U.S. and Canadian sites to examine the effectiveness of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, including the injection of acid gas at the Zama oil field in Alberta, Canada.

Both the previous and planned work is being conducted in close collaboration with Apache Canada, Ltd., the owner and operator of the oil field, and Natural Resources Canada. The new funding will support two more years of activities at Zama that are aimed at demonstrating that acid gas injection is a safe and effective means of reducing CO2 emission while enhancing oil recovery.

“These activities are important to improving our understanding and development of technologies and approaches for CO2 and acid gas capture, transportation, and storage,” said Ed Steadman, EERC senior research adviser and PCOR Partnership Program manager. “They are also helping determine the technical and economic viability of CO2 and acid gas storage and support the ultimate deployment of commercial-scale projects.”

CCS is considered an important approach for reducing CO2 emissions currently vented to the atmosphere. Several geologic settings are available for CO2 sequestration, including depleting or depleted oil and gas reservoirs and deep saline formations. In some cases, the injection of CO2 and acid gas into oil fields can increase oil productivity, which can make a CCS project more economical.

“Acid gas from natural gas production streams has been economically captured throughout the world for decades,” Steadman continued. “Acid gas has also been transported through pipelines and injected into deep geological formations safely and cost-effectively, especially in western Canada. But while injection of CO2 and acid gas into geologic formations is fairly well understood, more monitoring, verification, and accounting are necessary to ensure and validate the long-term containment of CO2 and H2S in the oil field.”

Since December 2006, more than 80,000 tons of acid gas, approximately 74 percent of which was CO2, has been injected into the Zama oil field approximately 4,900 feet below the ground surface. To date, more than 35,000 incremental barrels of oil have been recovered as a result of the injection.

DOE’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Program is a government–industry effort that aims to determine the best approaches for capturing and storing gases that can contribute to climate change. The program is managed by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. The partnership brings together more than 80 partners consisting of public agencies, utilities, oil and gas companies, engineering firms, nonprofit organizations, and universities. It has completed four small-scale validation tests and is currently conducting two large-scale development tests.

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