There is a February 11, 2006 post on the Energy Blog titled BP Planning Power Plant That Would Sequester Carbon Dioxide. It describes a project that is supposed to provide a potential path to to an energy production system that does not release carbon dioxide to the environment. The author of the post on the Energy Blog seems to take the technical description at face value, and believes that it has some merit. I questioned the concept and the motivation in a comment on that blog that I will repeat here.
I have some trouble with understanding the concept described above. If the CO2 is going to be piped to an oil field and injected underground to enhance recovery of the oil in the field, how will it remain permanently underground?
I am no oil geologist, so my simple minded brain might be missing a few key points.
If an oil field is composed of rather porous rocks with petroleum mixture spread through those rocks at a certain pressure, an oil well drilled into those rocks provides a way for the pressure to be relieved, thus pushing the fluids (gas and oil) to the well and then lifting those up for further processing. Obviously, as more and more gas and oil are removed from this system, the pressure drops and the production falls.
Recovery can be enhanced by injecting a high pressure fluid – generally either water, steam or CO2 to increase the pressure. When that occurs, the steam and/or CO2 mixes with the natural gas and oil in the reservoir and all of the mixture flows to the well. The resulting oil, gas and enhancement fluid must then be processed to remove the pressure enhancing fluid, adding some cost, but recovering oil that would not have been available without the pressure boost.
However, WHERE does that enhancing fluid go? I submit that unless there is another expensive step added at the production wells to collect and compress any injected CO2, that it will simply be VENTED to the atmosphere! There is no way to permanently lock the CO2 in the ground if it is being injected into an oil field where there are DESIGNED vents to the atmosphere known as oil wells!
Why would an engineering driven company like a petroleum company think that such a scheme is a technically defensible way to prevent CO2 emissions – I am sure that the engineers know what is going on.
However, BP – like many oil companies – simply cannot get enough of our money. It is not enough to produce the highest annual profit ever reported by a company based in Britain, they have figured out how to design a project that will qualify for US government subsidies (corporate welfare) as an R&D project.
From the above article:
“As a result, the project will depend, in part, on incentives provided in the Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 for advanced gasification technologies. In addition, continued progress on the California Public Utilities Commission’s electricity “resource adequacy” procurement policies will encourage this first-of-its-kind facility.”
It really gets my goat to examples of big corporations that seek to be both on the dole and hugely profitable. I’ll bet they are loving the capital gains tax cuts.