CO2 Applications

Getty Images.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) continues to garner a lot of media and technical attention—both good and bad. I want to look at the global big picture of CO2, more specifically its uses and applications.

Global emissions of CO2 resulting from the use of fossil fuels amount to approximately 35 billion tons per year. How much of this can we capture? How much can we store or sequester? And, perhaps the most important question: How much will it cost and who will pay?

It is the last question that needs some attention and discussion. Anyone conversant with CO2 will quickly tell you that pure sequestration will be difficult and challenging because there are no revenues. It is an area that all mankind should work on. In the short term, carbon capture and storage (CCS) has to be CCUS where the “U” stands for “usage.”

So what are some of the current uses of CO2? They include

  • CO2 for enhanced oil and gas recovery
  • Commercial use in the fertilizer, polymer, beverage, and liquid-fuel industries
  • Biological-activity enhancement
  • Mineralization or permanent sequestration in cements

How much of the emitted man-made CO2 can be used with these applications? It is only a very small fraction—by some estimates less than 1%.

Another point to note is that, among these highlighted uses, CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is by far the most dominant application. We should all play our part in addressing and reducing the challenges associated with the current applications and, most importantly, in developing cost-effective new CO2 use and sequestration technologies. Sequestration of CO2 poses significant challenges. Each and every one of us is obligated to do our small part in ensuring that we address these challenges to the benefit of mankind. Some of the papers that follow address these challenges through demonstration projects. SPE is perfectly placed in terms of providing best practices and a platform for sharing the development and deployment of these innovative technologies.

This Month's Technical Papers

Integrating Enhanced Oil Recovery and Carbon Capture and Storage: Farnsworth Field

First CO2-Enhanced-Oil-Recovery Demonstration Project in Saudi Arabia

Approaches for CO2 Capture and Squestration Inspired by Biological Systems

Recommended Additional Reading

IPTC 18843 Galvanizing Stakeholder Support for CSS by W. Maas, Shell, et al.

SPE 185033 Permanently Sequester Anthropogenic CO2—Through Hydraulic Fracturing by M.M. Reynolds, Ferus, et al.

SPE/AFRC 2572863 Innovations in Carbon Dioxide Capture and Sequestration for Operations, Engineering, and Technology by Simiyu E. Lilian, Kenyatta University, et al.

Sunil Kokal, SPE, is a principal professional (senior adviser) and a focus-area champion of enhanced oil recovery on the Reservoir Engineering Technology team at the EXPEC/Advanced Research Center at Saudi Aramco in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Since joining Aramco in 1993, he has been involved in applied research projects on enhanced/improved oil recovery, reservoir fluids, hydrocarbon phase behavior, crude-oil emulsions, and production-related challenges. Currently, Kokal is leading a group of scientists, engineers, and technicians to develop a program for CO2 EOR and to conduct appropriate studies and field demonstration projects. He has authored or coauthored more than 100 technical papers and authored the chapters on Crude Oil Emulsions and Reservoir Fluid Sampling for the revised edition of the SPE Petroleum Engineering Handbook (2006). Kokal has served as associate editor for the Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering and SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering. Earlier, he served on the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology. Kokal received the 2012 SPE DeGolyer Distinguished Service Medal, the 2011 SPE Distinguished Service Award, and the 2010 SPE Regional Technical Award for Reservoir Description and Dynamics, and he attained SPE Distinguished Member status in 2008 for his services to the Society. He also served as an SPE Distinguished Lecturer during 2007–08. Kokal holds a PhD degree in chemical engineering from the University of Calgary and a BS degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology. He is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee and can be reached at

CO2 Applications

Sunil Kokal, SPE, Principal Professional, Saudi Aramco

01 July 2017

Volume: 69 | Issue: 7


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