Category Archives: Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility

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CO2 Applications

Last year in this focus on CO2 applications, I (as others have) connected enhanced
oil recovery (EOR) as an enabling business foundation and a possible way forward
to accomplish carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a business investment. This year,
in an address to the CCS conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US Department of
Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy Charles McConnell encouraged the
CCS industry to help operators establish a salient business case between CO2 EOR and
usage and sequestration. Creating a technical lead in CO2 EOR and other usage technologies
establishes an opportunity to commercialize the technologies that could be
in high demand in the years to come, particularly in coal-reliant developing countries
such as China and India.

The technologies needed to accomplish carbon capture, utilization, and storage
(CCUS) require expertise in science and engineering that, in some cases, are not completely
matured or, at least, require a different focus and commitment in science and
business to affect CCUS. An acceptable return on investment will depend on economic
CO2 capture and largely on regulatory stability.

Administratively, the US Environmental Protection Agency proposed a carbon
pollutions standard for new power plants, which will have to meet 1,000 lbm
of CO2 per electrical megawatt-hour produced. Older coal plants average approximately
1,768 lbm of CO2 per megawatt-hour but are exempt from the standard, as are
plants permitted to begin construction within a year. A typical natural-gas electricitygeneration
plant emits 800 to 860 lbm of CO2 per megawatt-hour.

Legislatively, the proposed US Senate Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012 would
implement a credit system to reduce CO2 emissions. A study by the DOE and the Energy
Information Agency (EIA) to evaluate the effects of this policy concluded that virtually
no electrical generation will occur in 2035 from US coal plants that use CCUS
technology even though CCUS is awarded nearly a full credit under the proposed policy.
The policy predicts a significant shift in the long-term electricity-generation mix
in the US by 2035, with coal-fired generation falling to 54% below the reference-case
level. Combined heat and power generators fired by natural gas increase substantially
through 2020, and nuclear and nonhydropower renewable generation plays a larger
role between 2020 and 2035. The proposed policy could reduce US electric-power-sector
CO2 emissions to 44% below the EIA’s reference case in 2035. National average
delivered electricity prices could increase gradually to 18% above the reference case
by 2035. However, there will still be a need to use the CO2 from the gas-powered plants
in the US and coal-powered plants worldwide by CCUS or other methods. These conclusions
concur with recent reports published by some major oil and gas entities on
the future of natural gas for electrical generation in the US.

The need for pure CCS in developed countries such as the US may not be as great
as in developing countries; but, the US and other developed countries have the ability
and capability to implement CCS through CCUS.

Read the paper synopses in the July 2012 issue of JPT.

John D. Rogers, SPE, is vice president of operations for Fusion Reservoir Engineering Services. With 30  years of experience, he previously worked as a production/operations engineer for Amoco, as a research scientist for the Petroleum Recovery Research Center of New Mexico Tech, and for the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the DOE. Rogers holds BS and PhD degrees in chemical engineering from New  Mexico State University and an MS degree in petroleum engineering from Texas Tech University. Rogers has  contributed to more than 30 publications and has served on several SPE editorial and conference committees. He  currently serves on the JPT Editorial Committee.

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Mitigating Disaster–A Look at the Ohmsett Oil Spill Research and Test Facility

Robin Beckwith, Staff Writer JPT/JPT Online

On 11 October 2011, the X Prize Foundation announced the winners of the USD 1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE, launched during the summer of 2010 in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the US Gulf of Mexico. According to a press release, “the competition inspired entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists worldwide to develop innovative, rapidly deployable, and highly efficient methods of capturing crude oil from the ocean surface.” Emerging from an original field of more than 350 submissions from all over the world, Elastec/ American Marine of Carmi, Illinois, captured the USD 1 million first prize, with Norway’s NOFI Tromsø awarded the USD 300,000 second prize; no contestant’s cleanup system qualified to receive third prize.

Testing the 10 finalists’ technologies in order to determine the winner would have been impossible were it not for a facility called Ohmsett (Oil and Hazardous Materials Environmental Test Tank). What is Ohmsett, and why is it so critical to the development of oil spill prevention and mitigation technology?

Read the full article in the December 2011 issue of JPT

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Can Geoscientists Resolve the CCS Paradox?

International energy and climate organizations have found carbon capture and storage (CCS) to be a promising technology to resolve the squeeze between fast-growing global energy needs and global warming. Even environmental organizations say that making our energy use more efficient and building enough new renewable energy capacity takes too long. We need to get the CCS working to curb the growing greenhouse gas emissions if too large a climate change is to be avoided.

CCS consists of three major interdependent steps:

  • Capture the carbon, CO2 out of flue gases, either from the stack of a power plant or the blast furnace top gas in iron making.
  • Transport it by pipeline or ship it underground.
  • Safely keep it in a storage site for thousands of years.

The technology for each of these steps has been used for decades in the industry, mostly in oil and gas. The important change is the scale–from about 100,000 to 1 million metric tons per year in the past. Today, we see the need for handling 10 million tons in each installation and for perhaps several thousand installations. The amount of CO2 produced from one power station varies from 2 million to 10 million tons; a modern iron-making blast furnace emits up to 10 million tons per year. The costs of the technologies for a large-scale CO2 handling chain are estimated to be split roughly 75%-10%-15% for capture-transport-storage.

Read the entire article in the December 2011 JPT.

Tore A. Torp is adviser for CO2 storage at Statoil, leading the storage part of Statoil’s research and development program (R&D) on CO2 capture and storage. He joined Statoil in 1984 from the steel industry. Between 1984 and 1996, he led large international R&D cooperation projects developing complex offshore field technologies. Since 1997, he has been project manager of Statoil CO2 storage R&D projects. He was vice chairman of the CSLF Technical Group, and was a lead author of the IPCC Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage. He received a PhD in material sciences from Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

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Quantifying the Invisible: Getting a Handle on Methane’s Climate Impact

Robin Beckwith, Staff Writer JPT/JPT Online

Earlier this year, a Cornell University professor made quite a splash publishing a paper asserting that emissions from shale gas rivaled those from coal. A July 2011 study issued by the Post Carbon Institute underscored this conclusion. Not so, say five separate recent reports–from Carnegie Mellon University, IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), the US National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Argonne Laboratory, and Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors (coauthored by individuals from Worldwatch Institute and ICF International). At heart are issues related to measuring and quantifying emissions of an odorless, colorless gas–methane (CH4)–considered the second-most prevalent long-lived greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide (CO2).

Read the full article in the November 2011 JPT.