More than 40 years ago, CO2 EOR got its start in the Permian basin when the process was employed to help boost oil production in the SACROC Unit in Scurry County, Texas. The technical success of the project led to the eventual construction of CO2 pipelines that connect the Permian basin oil fields to natural underground CO2 sources in Colorado and New Mexico.

Today there are more than 6,276 km (3,900 miles) of pipeline in the US that transport approximately 65 million tons of CO2 annually that is purchased by the oil industry for use in EOR, according to a report from the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative. Of the 281,000 b/d of US crude oil produced with EOR, more than 170,000 b/d come from Permian basin oil fields. Operators there inject more than 1.6 Bcf/d of naturally sourced CO2 , according to a US Department of Energy (DOE) report.

The availability of CO2 and the significant cost of delivering it have placed constraints on operators in the Permian basin and elsewhere. There are concerns that the constraints could become greater as more projects are brought online across the country.

During the recent CO2 Conference held in Midland, Texas, Ann Banks, chief commercial officer of Summit Power Group, updated attendees on the company’s Texas Clean Energy Project (TCEP). The project would provide an additional 2.5 million tons of anthropogenic CO2 for EOR use in the Permian basin.

TCEP is a DOE-supported clean coal demonstration project billed as a “first-of-its-kind” commercial power plant. The plant will be located on a 600-acre site in the small town of Penwell, which is located about 24 km (15 miles) west of Odessa, Texas.

When operational, the plant will use an integrated gasification combined cycle process to generate 400 MW gross output of power. The plant, according to Summit, “will capture 90% of the CO2 , 99% of sulfur, and more than 95% of the mercury and [will] eliminate more than 90% of the nitrogen oxides produced by the process.”

Captured CO2 will be delivered to the Central Basin Pipeline owned by Kinder Morgan CO2 Pipeline LP. The location of this pipeline was a key consideration during the plant site selection process. Transportation costs from the plant to the pipeline should be minimal as there is an existing tie-in valve located less than 1 km (0.6 miles) from the plant.

In 2011 Whiting Petroleum Corp. agreed to purchase 80 MMcf/d of compressed CO2 during the first five years of TCEP’s operation for use in its Permian basin EOR operations. Since then, two other undisclosed companies also have agreed to purchase CO2 . On the power generation side, CPS Energy of San Antonio has agreed to purchase 200 MW of power from the plant for 25 years. Minnesota-based CHS Inc. will purchase the plant’s entire output of urea for use in fertilizer and is expected to reduce annual US imports of urea fertilizer by more than 10%.