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New CO2 Enhanced Recovery Technology Could Greatly Boost U.S. Oil

March 3, 2006 - 11:40am

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WASHINGTON , D.C. - The Department of Energy (DOE) released today reports indicating that state-of-the-art enhanced oil recovery techniques could significantly increase recoverable oil resources of the United States in the future. According to the findings, 89 billion barrels or more could eventually be added to the current U.S. proven reserves of 21.4 billion barrels.

"These promising new technologies could further help us reduce our reliance on foreign sources of oil," Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said. "By using the proven technique of carbon sequestration, we get the double benefit of taking carbon dioxide out of air while getting more oil out of the earth."

The 89 billion barrel jump in resources was one of a number of possible increases identified in a series of assessments done for DOE which also found that, in the longer term, multiple advances in technology and widespread sequestration of industrial carbon dioxide could eventually add as much as 430 billion new barrels to the technically recoverable resource.

If the 89 billion barrels in resources is converted to reserves, the U.S. would be fifth in the world behind Iraq with 115 billion barrels, and an additional 430 billion barrels would make it first, ahead of Saudi Arabia with 261 billion barrels.

Next-generation enhanced recovery with carbon dioxide was judged to be a "game-changer" in oil production, one capable of doubling recovery efficiency. And geologic sequestration of industrial carbon dioxide in declining oil fields was endorsed last year as a potential method of reducing greenhouse base emissions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The assessments looked at maximizing oil production and accelerating the productive use of carbon dioxide in all categories of petroleum resources, including as-yet undiscovered oil and the new resources in the residual oil zone. The findings are consolidated in the February 2006 report Undeveloped Domestic Oil Resources: The Foundation for Increasing Oil Production and a Viable Domestic Oil Industry.

The 430 billion barrel potential was identified in increments of up to 110 billon barrels from applying today's state-of-the-art enhanced recovery in discovered fields - 90 billion in light oil, 20 billion in heavy oil; up to 179 billion barrels from undiscovered oil - 119 billion from conventional technology, 60 billion from enhanced recovery; up to 111 billion barrels from reserve growth - 71 billion from conventional technology, 40 billion from enhanced recovery; up to 20 billion from tapping the residual oil zone with enhanced recovery; and, another 10 billion from tar sands.

The separate assessments and reports contributing to the total resource estimate are: Basin Oriented Assessments, ten assessments of producing U.S. basins and the potential of state-of-the-art enhanced oil recovery; Stranded Oil in the Residual Oil Zone (ROZ), five reports looking at new resources in the residual oil zone; and, Evaluation of the Potential for "Game-Changer" Improvements in Oil Recovery Efficiency for CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery, a report on next-generation technology. They were prepared by Advanced Resources International and Melzer Consulting.

Media contact(s):

Craig Stevens, 202/586-4940

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