Traditional Sources of CO2

The traditional sources of CO2 used for Enhanced Oil Recovery are either naturally occurring, or a by-product of industrial processes.

Naturally Occurring CO2

The sources of naturally occurring CO2 include high purity CO2 reservoirs and large gas fields with high concentrations of CO2 contained in the gas. There are five reservoirs of naturally occurring CO2 in production in the USA today and 85% of the CO2 daily output comes from two of those; the Jackson Dome in Mississippi and McElmo Dome in Colorado; the daily output of both of those is believed to be 100% committed at this time. Four other reservoirs are known to exist and approximately 70% of the reserves of those four involve the one in New Mexico, discovered in 1994, which is under development today, but no CO2 production is projected from there before 2016, according to industry publications.

Since none of these reservoirs are adjacent to the oilfields where the CO2 is needed, they all employ extensive pipeline systems to deliver the CO2 to the closest oilfields where the CO2 can be deployed for Enhanced Oil Recovery.

There are six natural gas reservoirs with sufficient concentration of CO2 to justify the cost to separate it from the natural gas for use in Enhanced Oil Recovery. Two of those are in Texas and are close enough to connect to the CO2 pipeline system serving the Permian Basin area; three are in Wyoming where the CO2 has to be transported across the state and into other states to be used in Enhanced Oil Recovery; and a relatively small operation exists in Michigan. About half of the current CO2 production from those sources is in Texas and the other half in Wyoming. The CO2 separated from natural gas reservoirs represents about 25% of the current CO2 production from all naturally occurring sources.

CO2 as a By-Product of Industrial Operations

There are a few industrial plants across the USA today that have carbon capture incorporated into their industrial operations, a few more under construction, and few others in the planning stages. Relative to the daily production of naturally occurring CO2 sources in the USA today, the industrial plants currently capturing CO2 produce an equivalent of less than 2%, those under construction would represent an additional 5%, and those in the planning stages would represent an additional 10%, if they are completed.