Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership
Press Releases and Articles

EERC's PCOR Partnership Demonstrates Ability of Apache's Zama Project to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
January 18, 2011

GRAND FORKS, N.D. --- The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) announced today that its Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership has been awarded $768,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to continue research demonstrating the effectiveness of injecting a mixture of carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a toxic and corrosive gas sometimes referred to as "acid gas," into an oil field for the purpose of simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving oil recovery.

Since 2006, the EERC's PCOR Partnership, one of seven members of DOE's Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership Program, has performed a series of major field tests at sites in the United States and Canada to examine the effectiveness of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, including the injection of acid gas at the Zama oil field in Alberta, Canada. Both the previous and planned work is being conducted in close collaboration with Apache Canada, Ltd., the owner and operator of the oil field, and Natural Resources Canada. The new funding will support two more years of activities at Zama that are aimed at demonstrating that acid gas injection is a safe and effective means of reducing CO2 emission while enhancing oil recovery. The findings will help support national and global efforts to develop and deploy CCS use as one option for mitigating the emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

"These activities are important to improving our understanding and development of technologies and approaches for CO2 and acid gas capture, transportation, and storage," said Ed Steadman, EERC Senior Research Advisor and PCOR Partnership Program Manager. "They are also helping determine the technical and economic viability of CO2 and acid gas storage and support the ultimate deployment of commercial-scale projects."

CCS is considered an important approach for reducing CO2 emissions currently vented to the atmosphere. Several geologic settings are available for CO2 sequestration, including depleting or depleted oil and gas reservoirs and deep saline formations. In some cases, the injection of CO2 and acid gas into oil fields can increase oil productivity, which can make a CCS project more economical.

"Acid gas from natural gas production streams has been economically captured throughout the world for decades," Steadman continued. "Acid gas has also been transported through pipelines and injected into deep geological formations safely and cost-effectively, especially in western Canada. But while injection of CO2 and acid gas into geologic formations is fairly well understood, more monitoring, verification, and accounting are necessary to ensure and validate the long-term containment of CO2 and H2S in the oil field."

Since December 2006, more than 80,000 tons of acid gas, approximately 74% of which was CO2, has been injected into the Zama oil field approximately 4900 feet below the ground surface. To date, more than 35,000 incremental barrels of oil have been recovered as a result of the injection.

DOE's Regional Carbon Sequestration Program is a government-industry effort that aims to determine the best approaches for capturing and storing gases that can contribute to climate change. The program is managed by the Office of Fossil Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory. The EERC's PCOR Partnership brings together more than 80 partners consisting of public agencies, utilities, oil and gas companies, engineering firms, nonprofit organizations, and universities. It has completed four small-scale validation tests and is currently conducting two large-scale development tests.

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Derek Walters
Communications and Outreach Manager
(701) 777-5113