IEA and KAPSARC co-host workshop on decarbonisation potential of advanced CO2-EOR

31 January 2018

Participants in the joint IEA/KAPSARC meeting on CO2 enhanced oil recovery (Photo: IEA)

The International Energy Agency (IEA) and the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) co-hosted an expert workshop on the potential for advanced CO2 enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) to decarbonize oil production. The workshop focused on the potential for using CO2-EOR for CO2 storage and increasing oil production, also known EOR+ or advanced CO2-EOR.

Over the course of the two day meeting, over 60 participants from government, industry and academia examined the current status of CO2-EOR and EOR+, explored the economic and environmental benefits of advanced CO2-EOR and discussed the challenges facing its widespread adoption.

In his introductory address, IEA Chief Economist Laszlo Varro highlighted that combining oil recovery with CO2 storage can provide energy and economic security to oil-producing countries as well as environmental benefits by reducing CO2 emissions through permanent CO2 storage.

Doug Cooke, KAPSARC’s Program Director Energy Transitions and Environment, noted that advanced CO2-based oil recovery in combination with geological storage has the potential to offer a ‘win-win’ for oil producing and consuming countries by contributing to decarbonising the transport sector while ensuring the longevity of national hydrocarbon assets in oil-producing countries.

However, both Mr Varro and Mr Cooke recognized that there are a number of legal, regulatory and economic challenges to realise the potential of advanced CO2-EOR combined with verifiable CO2 storage.

“Establishing appropriate policy frameworks to enable investment will key to the development of EOR+,” said Mr Varro. Mr Cooke added that “the benefits of advanced CO2-EOR need to be proven if it is to become a credible part of the global response to combatting carbon emissions. International collaboration between all key stakeholders will be critical for success.”

“Advanced CO2-EOR can also provide market pull for the deployment of CCS technology by supporting crucial early CCS investment in some jurisdictions” noted Juho Lipponen, IEA head of CCS, “because CCS accounts for one sixth of the required emissions reductions worldwide by 2060.”

Advanced CO2-EOR is not yet a mainstream practice and will require changes in how projects are planned and operated. This in turn will require changes in the legal, regulatory and commercial framework to support its deployment. Effective public policies will be required to harness this potential.

The joint workshop informed decision makers on the opportunities and challenges of advanced EOR and provided clear recommendations on how advanced EOR can play a meaningful role in national energy and emissions reductions.