National Coal Council Study Finds CO2-Based Enhanced Oil Recovery From Coal Benefits Environment, Energy Security And Economy
WASHINGTON, June 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Coal Council (NCC) today presented the U.S. Department of Energy with the results of a comprehensive study requested by U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. The study, "Harnessing Coal's Carbon Content to Advance the Economy, Environment and Energy Security," concludes that widespread deployment of carbon dioxide capture and utilization (CCUS) technologies at coal-based power and liquid fuels production plants could help increase domestic oil production by more than 3.5 million barrels a day for 40-plus years.
The Council's findings are based on contributions from more than 60 leading energy experts in coordination with the National Petroleum Council. Since 2001, the Council has conducted six major carbon dioxide (CO2) management studies for a series of U.S. Energy Secretaries. In this recent report, the Council evaluated the potential market for using CO2 captured from the existing and newly constructed U.S. coal-based electricity fleet and potential coal-to-liquids (CTL) plants as a resource for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations. EOR technology has successfully increased U.S. oil production for nearly half a century.
"It's time to think of CO2 as a valuable commodity. Advanced coal technology is key to affordably realizing deep reductions in emissions," said Council member and Study Chairman Richard Bajura. "The U.S. uses more coal than any nation except China, and potential production of U.S. oil from coal-derived CO2 for CCUS/ EOR applications dwarfs other projected new domestic sources. We have a unique opportunity to more fully use domestic, low-cost coal to access more oil." Research conducted for the National Energy Technology Laboratory indicates that over 60 billion barrels of oil are economically recoverable using next-generation technology at an assumed world oil price of $85 per barrel.
"CO2 -based EOR projects are operating profitably even in the current challenging economic environment," explains Council member and Chairman of the Council's Coal Policy Committee Fred Palmer. "Successful deployment of CCUS/EOR responds to the U.S. Administration's goal to reduce emissions 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050. With a regulatory framework that facilitates the increased deployment of this technology at scale, we can increase use of domestic energy, fuel economic growth and enhance national security."
Expanding CO2 -based EOR can significantly reduce emissions by capturing CO2 from coal-based generation and safely injecting the carbon deep into oil wells, releasing stranded oil that could not be accessed by more conventional drilling methods. However, the limited availability of CO2 has been a constraint.
The study calls for the capture of carbon dioxide from coal plants and transportation through a robust network of pipelines. This will accelerate the use of CCUS/EOR technology, resulting in large increases in domestic oil production, significant job creation and economic growth. The Council found that 18 billion to 31 billion metric tons of additional CO2 could be used in U.S. oil fields over the next 40 years or more, compared to 2 billion metric tons available from natural sources and natural gas processing. Use of CO2 in EOR processes could yield more than 3.5 million additional barrels a day of oil.
Additional findings in the report include:
- By 2035, the combination of coal-based EOR and CTL technology could provide up to 30 percent of U.S. liquid fuel demand and ensure America's energy security for decades. Much of the CO2 resource could come from large coal power plants that are distributed broadly and common in such economically recovering regions as the Ohio River Valley.
- Use of CO2 -based EOR and CTL could generate $200 billion in economic activity, more than 1 million skilled jobs and $60 billion in tax revenues.
- At least 100 gigawatts of advanced coal generating capacity could be built or retrofitted over the next two decades. These advanced plants would use an additional 300 million tons of coal annually.
- CTL plants with carbon capture could convert coal into more than 2.5 million barrels a day of additional oil. An additional 450 million tons of coal would be used annually in these operations.
- Capturing a high volume of CO2 for commercial purposes, coupled with CTL operations, would increase coal use to 1.75 billion tons annually. This production level is well within the capability of the United States, home to 30 percent of the world's coal reserves.
The National Coal Council is a private, nonprofit advisory body chartered by the U.S. Secretary of Energy in 1984 under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. National Coal Council members are appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Energy and reflect diverse interests, including from business, industry and academia. Download an executive summary of "Harnessing Coal's Carbon Content to Advance the Economy, Environment and Energy Security" at NationalCoalCouncil.org.
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