Department of Energy

Carbon Pollution Being Captured, Stored and Used to Produce More Domestic Oil

May 10, 2013

You are here

Major Demonstration Projects

Learn more about how the Office of Fossil Energy's carbon capture, utilization and storage program is benefiting the economy and the environment.

What if we could capture carbon dioxide waste from industrial plants and use it for something else -- rather than have it contribute to air pollution? As it turns out, today I’m visiting a breakthrough, first-of-its-kind project in Port Arthur, Texas, that’s doing just that.

The full-scale operation at Air Products and Chemicals' Port Arthur hydrogen production facility is capturing carbon dioxide from two steam methane reformer hydrogen-production plants, and then using this would-be byproduct to increase the efficiency of oil extraction from the West Hastings oil field in eastern Texas.

The Air Products and Chemicals hydrogen production facilities use a technique known as “steam reforming of methane” to produce hydrogen used in many industrial processes, including oil refinery operations. Unfortunately, like many industrial processes, the steam reforming process generates carbon dioxide as a byproduct. But by employing innovative carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies supported by Energy Department investments, the Port Arthur plant will now capture approximately 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Once captured, the carbon dioxide is then sent to the oil field where it will increase production by an estimated 1.6 to 3.1 million barrels -- all while being safely and securely stored underground.

By using advanced CCUS technologies, projects like this offer significant potential for reducing carbon dioxide emissions and helping us meet President Obama’s goals to mitigate climate change, while simultaneously generating economic benefits and increasing our energy security. The future of the American energy industry depends on leveraging innovative technologies like this -- making the development of our rich fossil energy resources cleaner, safer and more sustainable.