UW Researchers Unveil Tool to Aid Enhanced Oil Recovery

December 20, 2013
UW economist Ben Cook has worked with the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute to construct a database of Wyoming oil fields technically suited for recovery with CO2, and integrated an economic impact model to assess potential job creation.

Researchers at the University of Wyoming and the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute (EORI) are offering Wyoming operators a unique tool to better understand the economic viability of carbon dioxide flooding in their legacy fields.

CO2Scope™ is a software program developed to assist Wyoming oil operators with estimating the economic feasibility of using CO2 as an enhanced oil recovery method. Operators can quickly scope various economic scenarios for injecting CO2 by downloading the software package made available to Wyoming operators at no cost.

The development of CO2Scope™ goes back several years. Beginning with the modeling work and research of Klaas van’t Veld, associate professor of economics, the effort was continued by Benjamin Cook, visiting assistant professor in UW’s new energy management MBA program. Cook also has worked with EORI to construct a database of Wyoming oil fields technically suited for recovery with CO2, and integrated an economic impact model to assess potential job creation.

“This is the only database of its type,” says Glen Murrell, EORI associate director. “It has raised visibility of the institute and Wyoming CO2 enhanced oil recovery. Its development has also contributed heavily to our internal understanding of CO2 supply requirements.”

Cook’s research estimates that implementing CO2 enhanced oil recovery in Wyoming could increase production by 0.7 billion to 1 billion barrels of oil from already-developed oil reservoirs. Sixty percent or more of that oil will likely come from the Big Horn Basin alone. From 2010 to 2012, Wyoming’s existing CO2 oil projects already have increased state production by an average of 6.7 million barrels annually, enough to support roughly 1,900 jobs per year. One billion barrels of incremental oil produced in Wyoming with enhanced oil recovery would generate approximately $8 billion to $9 billion in ad valorem and severance taxes for state and county governments, based on an average oil price of $70 a barrel.

CO2Scope™ now makes this underlying research model available to Wyoming’s oil operators and other industry participants as a flexible, Excel-based spreadsheet tool.

EORI and Cook officially released CO2Scope™ at the December CO2 Conference Week in Midland, Texas. Wyoming operators will be able to download the model for free and begin to take advantage of its unique capabilities. Operators not working in Wyoming will be able to use the tool as well, for a small fee. Cook says he hopes that “making this tool publicly available will not only increase awareness of CO2 EOR opportunities in Wyoming and elsewhere, but also allow us to work more closely with industry participants in improving the assumptions and features of the software itself.”

“Dr. Cook’s work evaluating the economic impact of growing Wyoming’s CO2 EOR capacity just makes sense,” says David Mohrbacher, EORI director. “The big benefits include extending the life of old Wyoming oil fields, and recovering a substantial portion of oil that is still stranded in those reservoirs. This is an opportunity to create jobs, increase state and county revenues, and do it with the existing infrastructure. Continued growth of CO2 EOR will mean production of more than a billion barrels of additional oil in Wyoming over the next 20 to 40 years.”

CO2Scope™ can be found at https://www.uwyo.edu/eori/co2scopetm/index.html.

The Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute is one of several centers of excellence of UW’s School of Energy Resources (SER). SER is an interdisciplinary entity tasked with developing the fundamental knowledge, technologies and human resources necessary to solve the critical energy challenges society faces today. Each School of Energy Resources center of excellence serves as a hub to unite academia, government and industry in cooperation for the advancement of its focus area.

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