CO2 enhanced oil recovery, or CO2-EOR, is the process of injecting CO2 into oil reservoirs to mobilise some of the remaining oil. CO2-EOR has thus far been the only large-scale use of CO2 where CO2 has a positive economic value. Several studies have shown that large-scale CO2-EOR in the North Sea can be profitable for oil prices down to 50 USD/bbl. Industry relevance is therefore evident.

The activity on CO2-EOR in NCCS is mainly relevant for Deployment Case 2 (Link). In this scenario an infrastructure transporting CO2 from European sources to the North Sea is in place and sufficiently large amounts of CO2 are readily available for use in EOR operations. However, CO2-EOR may also be relevant for an extended phase of the first deployment case (DC1), where the amount of captured CO2 is increased beyond 1.25 Mt/year.

The net cost of the overall CCS chain is the main deployment barrier addressed. This barrier can be reduced or overcome by providing value through production of additional oil.

Reservoir management
Optimal use of a storage site and thereby reduction of cost per tonne CO2 stored is an important issue, as the main deployment barrier of CCS is cost. The first few injection operations will likely focus on demonstration of feasibility and safety. However, active management and optimisation of the available storage capacity will become important when the injection rate increases beyond a few Mt/year for a single storage site. Good reservoir management will be imperative in efforts to minimize storage-related costs.

Results 2017

The mobility contrast between CO2 and oil/water, and the large well distance, make tertiary CO2 injection more challenging as an EOR option in the North Sea than in North America, where it is already being successfully employed.

The task investigates novel methods for controlling the mobility of injected CO2, such as functionalized nanomaterials for foam generation or direct CO2 thickeners.

Following a review of recent literature, the first series of newly designed POSS (polyhedral oligomeric silsequioxanes) nanomaterials was synthesized.

Testing of CO2 solubility and other properties will commence in 2018, to give input on further generations of nanomaterials. Mobility control of injected CO2 can also be beneficial for aquifer storage, since it could postpone the point in time when CO2 reaches spill points in structural traps. Initial modelling to investigate this effect has been performed.

Task leader