Global energy strategies need to reflect the current climate and societal challenges. Thus, petroleum production needs to become more sustainable while continuing to provide the much needed energy for the world's growing population. This energy strategy can be implemented through combining the utilization of anthropogenic CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and CO2 storage. CO2 EOR is the only process that may store sufficient CO2 volumes to mitigate global warming while generating a revenue for the industry; a critical criteria for industry participation in Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS).
The goals of the Paris agreement and the UN's sustainability goals cannot be achieved without significant global efforts to permanently store CO2. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been considered as a possible method to achieve these goals through capturing CO2 at industrial point sources and injecting it into deep, saline aquifers for permanent storage. However, the high cost has restricted its widespread implementation; most importantly because it has not been resolved how and by whom the costs will be covered, probably either by the tax payers or the end-users. Indeed, this scenario may be applicable in the western, well-developed world but it is unlikely to work in most of the world; especially not in developing countries where access to affordable energy is the main concern. The volumes of CO2 that must be stored in order to reduce anthropogenic climate change are so large that industrial participation is required. However, the industry will be reluctant to participate in CO2 storage unless revenues are generated during the process. Therefore, this project aims to demonstrate a disruptive new CO2 storage technology which provides improved commercial revenues to industry while reducing CO2 emissions.
New technology developed at the University of Bergen utilizes anthropogenic CO2 together with mobility control foam in co-optimized EOR and CO2 storage processes. This approach is an economically sustainable solution for mitigating the high costs of CO2 capture and storage, while providing the world with much needed energy. Conventional CO2 EOR does not generate enough revenue, globally, to ensure industrial interest in CO2 storage. CO2 foam for mobility control is capable of increasing oil production more than in conventional CO2 EOR, while reducing operational costs and providing more efficient oil displacement. This EOR-technology, developed at University of Bergen, will increase CO2 sequestration and serve as enabler of commercial CCUS. In general, water injection recovers 30-50% of the oil, CO2 EOR 5-10% more, while CO2 Foam EOR may provide 10-30% more oil recovery subsequent to waterflooding.
CCUS-contributions from the project:
- To realize global CO2 storage at volumes large enough to mitigate global warming, this project verifies a new and more sustainable oil recovery technology, both with respect to economy and environment, which provides incentives for the industry to participate in CCUS.
- In this project, the next generation of petroleum engineers have integrated the entire value chain of CCUS in their education, including participation in upscaling from lab to field.
This international research collaboration between 6 universities and 6 oil companies in the US and Europe has demonstrated a more efficient method for CO2 storage using CO2 foam for mobility control in integrated EOR (IEOR). CO2 foam systems for mobility control have been developed within the project and were tested in an onshore US field pilot in a carbonate reservoir. Commercially available CO2 in the US, short interwell distances, and low costs in onshore pilot test, combined with long experience with CO2 EOR projects, made Texas a particularly good field pilot area. The field experience from the field pilots in Texas must be adapted to use on the Norwegian continental shelf. Upscaling from lab to onshore fields is part of a strategy for final upscaling to offshore reservoirs with large interwell distances. The international research team between academia and industry has ambitions to optimize the technology by performing several EOR field pilots with CO2 foam for mobility control in the US and then conducting an offshore field pilot, if funding becomes available. After three years of preparation, the foam pilot was started in an oil field in Texas in May 2019 and will last for 9-12 months. To date, 20 Master's students and 5 PhD students have graduated in the project.
Norway has more than 23 mature waterflooded reservoirs, both sandstone and chalk, with 2 400 million Sm3 residual oil after water injection as an EOR target. CO2 foam EOR can contribute to reaching this recovery target while simultaneously providing a positive synergy between the need for more energy and the requirement to reduce CO2 emissions through permanent, safe and affordable storage of CO2 in mature oil fields.
This project included laboratory work as well as carrying out a field pilot for CO2 storage. The project demonstrated how to realize global CO2 storage at volumes large enough to mitigate global warming by verifying a disruptive, new and more sustainable oil recovery technology for Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS). The technology provides incentives for the industry to participate in CCUS by generating improved revenue in CO2 foam EOR utilizing mobility control and thus enabling industrial CCUS. In this project, the next generation petroleum engineers have integrated the entire value chain of CCUS in their education, including participation in upscaling from lab to field. By building long-term, interdisciplinary and international scientific networks, efficient industry-academia collaborations were generated. Determining scale-dependent foam mechanisms showed the applicability of foam to address CO2 and climate challenges.
An international collaboration, including 5 universities/research institutions and 10 oil and oil service companies in Europe and USA, combines expertise and the common goal to develop and test CO2 foam systems with mobility control at laboratory and field pilot scale to optimize CO2 integrated EOR and aquifer deposition. CO2 foam systems for mobility control will be developed and tested in three inexpensive confirmed onshore US field pilots, in both clastic and carbonate reservoirs. Assisted by field experience from the US pilots CO2 Foam EOR for field implementation on NCS will be developed.
Norway has more than 23 mature waterflooded reservoirs, both sandstone and chalk, of significant size with 2 400 million Sm3 residual oil after water injection as EOR target. Foam for mobility control has the potential to overcome the challenge of unstable displacement during CO2 injection that strongly limits the EOR potential. A successful CO2 EOR project provides synergy between the need for increased energy production and the reduction in emission of anthropogenic CO2 by storage in sedimentary rocks. The project will develop EOR technology to maximize the oil recovery potential on NCS and ensure safe, long-term CO2 storage at minimum storage costs.
The collaboration allocates five main tasks, where each task is headed by the key personnel at the collaborating institution with existing scientifically leading knowledge: 1) Transport of aqueous surfactants, wettability changes and oil-tolerance (Rice Univ., UT Austin, USA), 2)Laboratory upscaling and visualization of EOR by foam (Univ. of Bergen, Norway), 3) Foam coalescence and transient flow with population balance model (Stanford Univ., USA), 4)Numerical upscaling of foam: from laboratory to field scale (UT Austin, USA, TU Delft, The Netherlands) and 5)Field pilot implementation (3 Operators, 3 Advisor Companies and Schlumberger as Service Company)