Shell joins research project exploring utilisation of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery in North Sea

A joint industry project (JIP) to investigate mechanisms for creating a CO2-driven enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) industry in the North Sea has welcomed Shell as a new industry partner. CO2-EOR has the potential to bring benefits for the UK offshore industry by improving recovery from depleted oil fields using CO2 captured from power plants and industry.

Shell joins project leader, Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS), and its existing JIP partners, the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, 2Co Energy and Nexen Petroleum UK Ltd, as a second phase of research gets under way.

The project is focused on gaining a better understanding of the use of CO2 in EOR operations, with the aim of extending the life of North Sea oil fields using CO2 captured from large emitters - such as power plants and industrial facilities - and permanently storing the greenhouse gas in offshore oil reservoirs.

The first phase of research has investigated issues that could affect the development of CO2-EOR linked with CCS projects, such as the legal and regulatory frameworks and taxation. Various fiscal models are being explored, alongside an investigation of how CO2-EOR is perceived by government, regulators, NGOs, the public and other stakeholders.

The project partners will now focus on a range of research, including reservoir modelling, further analysis of fiscal arrangements and the carbon balance of CO2-EOR operations, as well as public engagement.

The reservoir simulation work, which is being carried out at Heriot-Watt University, addresses issues such as quantifying the potential incremental oil production as a function of the amount of CO2 permanently stored, and comparing the benefits of conventional seawater injection, CO2 injection, and combined seawater and CO2 injection.

About Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR)

Enhanced oil recovery using CO2 (CO2-EOR), which has been used in North America for decades, could potentially store millions of tonnes of CO2 from CCS projects at power plants and industrial facilities, and increase the amount of oil produced from reservoirs beneath the North Sea by 5% to 25%. The process involves injecting CO2 into partially depleted oilfields at depth to force out additional volumes of oil, with the aim of the majority of the CO2 remaining permanently stored deep underground. To date, there has been no supply of CO2 to support industrial scale CO2-EOR in the North Sea, but the arrival of commercial-scale CCS could significantly change this.

About SCCS

SCCS is an independent research partnership of British Geological Survey, Heriot-Watt University, the University of Aberdeen and the University of Edinburgh. Its researchers are engaged in high-level CCS research as well as joint projects with industry, with the aim of supporting the development and eventual commercialisation of CCS as a climate mitigation technology in the UK and abroad.

All-Energy 2014

Experts from SCCS will be at the All-Energy Exhibition and Conference in Aberdeen, 21-22 May, and will be taking part in the two CCS sessions lined up for Day 1.