Core Energy currently operates the only CO2 Enhanced Oil Recover (EOR) projects in Michigan and the only commercial EOR project east of Mississippi using anthropogenic or captured CO2. CO2 EOR is a proven and increasingly cost-attractive technology for boosting oil production in maturing fields, and EOR operations pose a much smaller risk than conventional oil exploration because EOR uses reservoirs that have been historical producers. In 2008, Michigan produced its one millionth barrel of oil from CO2 EOR; this is oil that would not otherwise have been produced. Michigan could potentially recover up to 500 Million barrels of additional oil with much improved Greenhouse Gas profile due to the captured CO2 being injected into oil and gas fields and not into the atmosphere. In order to produce these barrels, Michigan needs additional sources of CO2, like advanced coal technology with Carbon Capture and Storage for base load electricity generation, which are strategically placed near oilfields suitable for EOR.
Primary Recovery is the first stage of hydrocarbon production, in which natural reservoir pressure moves the hydrocarbons from the reservoir, into the wellbore, and up to the surface. Generally, Primary Recovery only yields 30-35% of the total oil in place. This means that 65-70% of the oil is still in the ground! Enhanced Oil Recovery or EOR operations allow another 10-15% of the total oil in place to be produced.
After Primary Recovery, the natural pressure that was in the reservoir needs to be replaced in order for the reservoir to continue to produce. Core Energy performs CO2 EOR by injecting, or "flooding", one or more wells in a field with compressed CO2 removed from the Antrim Shale. The CO2 becomes dissolved (miscible) in the crude oil and both causes the oil to swell and reduces its viscosity - which drives and enables the oil to move more freely through the rock formation toward the oil recovery wells.
Using compressed CO2 for EOR has many benefits. First, it lets Michigan produce more oil that would have otherwise been imported. Second, the oil recovery helps to pay for the cost of capturing and building the transportation infrastructure necessary to sequester more CO2, making the process more economical. Most importantly, oil produced from CO2 EOR is net 70% carbon free as compared to conventional oil, making oil produced through EOR much more eco-friendly than conventionally produced oil. If all of the oil used in the United States were produced from EOR sources, the net amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere would be 6 million metric tons less PER DAY!
There are currently more than 80 CO2 EOR projects in the U.S. producing approximately 230,000 barrels of oil per day. Within the Midwestern Governors Association member states, there is an estimated CO2 EOR potential of more than 6.3 billion barrels of oil, which would require approximately 7.5 billion metric tons of CO2 between now and 2030. This reserve potential represents one-third of the total remaining primary reserves in the US.