CO2 can be an effective EOR agent and is the dominant anthropogenic greenhouse gas driving global warming. Capturing CO2 from industrial sources in EOR projects can maximize hydrocarbon recovery and help provide a possible bridge to a lower carbon emissions future, by adding value through EOR production and field life extension, and providing long term secure storage post-EOR operations.
Shell is working to implement new generation CO2 projects, including offshore applications. Based on recent offshore project design experience, this paper describes the challenges in moving CO2 EOR from onshore to offshore and the solutions developed, in the key areas of safety, facilities, wells, subsurface and piloting. The overriding design principle in any project is HSE. Offshore operations brings a new set of challenges over inventory, pressure, confined spaces and evacuation, with conventional emergency procedures requiring modification because of the different physical characteristics of CO2 releases compared to hydrocarbon gas. Surface facilities need to be simple to minimise CAPEX, weight and space while maintaining flexibility, since there is less scope to incrementally evolve the surface facilities as is the case onshore. Balancing the tension between these objectives requires very close surface and subsurface integration to find optimal and cost-effective solutions. This is illustrated with three key decision areas: gas treatment options for back produced CO2 and hydrocarbon gas, artificial lift and facilities capacity.
A novel integrated CO2 gas lift system is described. This simplifies facilities and reduces CAPEX and OPEX, while at the same time providing a high degree of flexibility and risk management over the EOR life cycle in terms of subsurface uncertainty and reducing the issues around molecular weight variation in the recycled gas and the degree of turndown required in the facilities in the early years of EOR operations.