This paper addresses the process of using CO2 for enhanced oil recovery technique (CO2-EOR) as driver to produce more oil from depleted oil reservoirs, while leading to effective CO2 abatement. Here, a simplified summary of this complex system through a lifecycle emission analysis is presented. This analysis is based on two concepts: (i) the Carbon Footprint of CO2-EOR, and (ii) the Principle of Additionality in CO2-EOR. The data used for this analysis comes from the Weyburn project in Saskatchewan, Canada.

The international community has been discussing for some time if CO2-EOR projects should be considered for carbon credits. There are still questions of "additionality" that should be addressed before the net climate impact of storing CO2 in an EOR project is verified. Since CO2-EOR has gained considerable interest within the oil and gas industry due to its potential for increased oil production, it is important to use a real case data to probe if CO2-EOR is a viable CO2 abatement technology or if on the contrary, it may result in increased emissions.

This study concludes that any emissions trading benefits from CO2 storing as part of a CO2-EOR project should be discounted according to a detailed analysis of the full cycle carbon balance using the principle of additionality. A key exception to this should be when a commercially viable CO2-EOR project results in the development of pipeline infrastructure which would also enable long term geological sequestration without EOR. In this way, CO2-EOR projects could play an important catalyst role in accelerating the deployment of CCS infrastructure. Finally a sensitivity analysis has indicated that the provision of petroleum tax breaks for CO2-EOR projects on the grounds of their emissions reduction potential is not the best use of public funds.

This study provides guidance to whether or not CO2-EOR projects should be eligible for carbon credits as part of deployment of CCS processes. Also this study contributes by defining an appropriate framework for developing guidelines, standards, and/or best practice manuals for the permanent geological sequestration of carbon dioxide.

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