Friday, July 24th, 2009 | Author:  | 8,491 views - starting Aug 9/09

weyburn project

here’s a look at a “real life” example of CO2 capture & storage (CCS) technology put into practice …

in north america, the weyburn project in weyburn, saskatchewan, canada, was actualized in 2000 … it involves capturing CO2 gas from the dakota gasification company (dgc), a coal gasification plant in north dakota …

according to the dgc website, “each day the synfuels plant converts approximately 18,000 tons of lignite coal into an average 145 million cubic feet of synthetic natural gas” … the CO2 gas by-product of burning coal is captured and ‘recycled’ by the oil extraction industry in saskatchewan instead of being released into the atmosphere …

the CO2 gas is then compressed to a high-pressure quasi-liquid supercritical state to facilitate pumping it through 320 km of pipeline from beulah, north dakota to the weyburn oil fields … at the weyburn plant, the liquified CO2 is mixed with water and injected at high pressure to about 15,000 metres deep into a depleted oil field …

similar projects exist elsewhere in the world … for example, in the united states and australia … future projects are also being planned in other countries …

once pumped into the ground, the CO2-water mixture is intended to decompress or liquify the petroleum that remains embedded in rock after conventional oil wells have drawn out all the available oil … therefore, CO2 enhanced oil recovery effects the release of remaining oil out of rock pores and facilitates extraction of otherwise rock-bound oil … (other enhanced oil recovery methods include injecting other gases, chemicals, or microorganisms into the ground; ultrasonic stimulation; thermal recovery; and flooding) …

weyburn - captured CO2currently, the weyburn project pumps more than 8,800 tonnes of CO2 gas into the ground per day, increasing oil field production by approximately 18,000 barrels/day …

the resulting CO2-water-oil combination is fractionated, and the CO2-water mixture is injected back into the ground along with “fresh” CO2 … some of the injected CO2 reacts with, and becomes incorporated into, the reservoir fossil rock …

once all oil has been extracted from the rock, the CO2 is permanently stored … most often, it is stored in dry oil wells, unworkable coal seams, deep saline aquifers, or into ocean waters … eventually, the stored CO2 gas is geosequestered, which means that chemical reactions convert the CO2 into different carbon-based molecules (usually mineral carbonates) that become permanent components of underground rock and fluid formations …

carbonated serpentine

carbonated serpentine

while i’ve listed several cons to this in a previous post, there is 1 other important drawback to this practice … and the drawback is political … currently, there is a rather disturbing lack of government regulation over industry CO2 pipelines, which are already in use across thousands of kilometers …

according to the Congressional Research Service, “there are important unanswered questions about pipeline network requirements, economic regulation, utility cost recovery, regulatory classification of CO2 itself, and pipeline safety” …

so is this geotechnology really good for the Earth? … or should we be reassessing industry intentions and the methods employed?

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3 Responses

  1. 1
    koolkat 

    this is a good info considering that i never heard of such plants

  2. 2
    Sue Brown 

    Capitalization would improve readability.

  3. 3
    Zaida Peng 

    I’m glad to stumble on this blog. I’ve learned a good number of important informations through your site. It is really helpful to find a site with intelligent writings. Thank you.