In FY 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy selected five projects focused on advancing the state of knowledge and developing and validating technologies that would allow for more effective storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations while also promoting additional oil recovery. Valued at more than $14 million, these projects will support the Office of Fossil Energy’s Carbon Storage Program goal of developing technologies to improve reservoir storage efficiency while ensuring CO2 containment effectiveness. DOE expects the knowledge, technologies, and methodologies developed under these projects will improve the potential for commercial-scale CO2 storage and additional oil recovery in both conventional and non-conventional oil reservoirs.

Approximately $5.6 million of the total value of the projects is provided via cost-sharing by research partners, in addition to $9 million in federal funds. The projects will be managed by Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

  • University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, N.D.) — Identification of Residual Oil Zones in the Williston and Powder River Basins. The project team will identify and evaluate ROZs in the Williston and Powder River Basins through comprehensive reservoir basin evolution modeling, simulation, temperature and saturation logging, and fairway mapping. The presence, extent, and oil saturation of ROZs in the Williston and Powder River Basins will be identified and the oil in place (OIP) and the CO2 storage potential will be determined. The research has a strong potential to identify many ROZs in both basins that could promote further domestic oil production and encourage further CO2 capture for utilization in recovering oil from these and other sedimentary basins.  (DOE share: $2,499,671; Recipient share: $4,006,327; Duration: 36 months)
  • University of Illinois (Champaign, Ill.) — A Nonconventional CO2-EOR Target in the Illinois Basin:  Oil Reservoirs of the Thick Cypress Sandstone. This research will undertake detailed geologic reservoir characterization to define CO2 storage potential, residual oil saturation, and CO2-EOR feasibility in oil reservoirs within the Cypress Sandstone of the Illinois Basin. Through careful reservoir characterization, geocellular modeling, and reservoir simulation based on actual reservoir parameters and formation fluid properties, methods for improved sweep and storage efficiency through injection will be developed. Cursory economics will be completed so that the relatively high storage component anticipated from these formations can be understood in terms of the magnitude of the CO2-EOR. Lessons learned from this research may be extrapolated to other formations of a similar depositional setting within the ILB as well as other basins within the United States. (DOE share: $2,181,664; Recipient share: $548,382; Duration: 36 months)
  • University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, N.D.) — Improved Characterization and Modeling of Tight Oil Formations for CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery Potential and Storage Capacity Estimation. The focus of this project will be on the tight, fractured reservoir and oil-wet, organic rich seals within the Bakken system in western North Dakota. The project team will  develop methods to better detect and characterize the macro-, micro-, and nanoscale pores and fracture networks within tight, fractured reservoirs and within organic-rich sealing formations. The potential rate of CO2 transport within and oil extraction from oil-wet, organic-rich shales will be evaluated. The researchers will also assess how CO2 capillary entry pressure at the reservoir–seal interface is affected by the wetting fluid of tight, organic-rich shales. The data will be integrated into geocellular and simulation models to improve their accuracy in predicting the CO2-EOR potential and estimating storage capacities and efficiencies in oil-wet and mixed-wet tight oil formations. (DOE share: $2,000,000; Recipient share: $500,000; Duration: 36 months)
  • The University of Texas at Austin (Austin, Texas) — Optimizing CO2 Sweep Based on Geochemical and Reservoir Characterization of the Residual Oil Zone of Hess Seminole Unit. This project will perform a detailed characterization and produce a new reservoir model of the largest producing ROZ in the Permian Basin, Hess’s Seminole San Andres Unit, based on core logging, petrography, and stratigraphic correlation of facies using core and wireline logging results. The new ROZ model will be used to design sophisticated multiphase fluid flow simulations to test different injection strategies. The team will compare the cost effectiveness of using a range of different strategies (such as use of horizontal injector wells, strategies to modify the viscosity of CO2 such as foam, and various strategies to alternate CO2 and water during injection) to optimize both oil production and incidental CO2 storage. Recommendations to optimize the sweep of CO2 in the reservoir will be presented to the operator of the reservoir for potential future implementation and testing. (DOE share: $1,506,584; Recipient share: $377,979; Duration: 36 months)
  • The University of Texas at Austin (Austin, Texas) — Carbon Life Cycle Analysis of CO2-EOR for Net Carbon Negative Oil (NCNO) Classification. The objective of the project is to develop and apply a universal methodology for estimating the carbon balance of a carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (CO2‐EOR) operation and making the determination of whether the operation can be classified as NCNO. As the carbon balance of an EOR operation depends significantly on the volumes of CO2 ultimately stored in the formation, the project team will consider multiple injection scenarios, such as direct CO2 injection (DI) and water alternating gas (WAG). In addition, the researchers will consider energy intensive components of the operation not typically included in carbon life cycle analyses and similar studies, such as compression and fluid handling. The team has selected the Cranfield site in Mississippi (an active CO2-EOR field) as the ideal case study field. (DOE share: $836,183; Recipient share: $209,497; Duration: 36 months)