Leveraging Geologic CO2 Storage Technology for CO2-EOR Management


Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) through CO2 injection has evolved from the laboratory testing and field piloting phases in the early 1970s to the widespread and refined operations of today. Over the last 20 years, geological CO2 storage (GCS) has emerged as a promising approach to dispose of large volumes of CO2. Much of the early advances in the operational aspects of GCS were learned from CO2-EOR. However, given its “newness� and the health, safety, and environment (HSE) concerns related to CO2 emissions, considerable fundamental and applied research with heavily instrumented GCS field projects, from pilot to commercial scale, has produced data not ordinarily available from conventional CO2-EOR studies. A key exception is the Weyburn-Midale CO2-EOR project in Saskatchewan, Canada, which has had a dedicated characterization, reservoir dynamics and surveillance program in operation since 2000. Even though many of the processes and workflows for these two operations are similar, significant differences do exist primarily because of the different objectives and regulatory environments that exist for CO2-EOR and CO2 storage projects. Fundamentally, CO2 storage tools and processes are geared toward developing a much more detailed understanding of the storage system and the physical and chemical processes accompanying CO2 injection, with monitoring and surveillance being conducted during the pre-operational, operational, and post-operational stages of a project. Pre-operational monitoring for a CO2-EOR project is primarily focused on understanding the reservoir physical and petrophysical properties as well as the properties of the reservoir and injected fluids. Surveillance in the operational phase of an EOR flood is limited, with emphasis being placed on monitoring injection pressures and rates as well as the volumes and properties of the injected and produced fluids. Lessons learned from GCS research and field tests will likely benefit CO2-EOR project performance by employing aspects of characterization, simulation and surveillance. This study reviews the predictive and diagnostic tools currently applied to GCS projects and infers how their deployment might improve CO2-EOR projects. These improvements might include project conformance, CO2 utilization / oil produced, field management, and containment risks.


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