Sulzer Uses Captured CO2 to Optimize Oil Recovery

10 June 2022

Sulzer’s pumps are helping to optimize oil recovery while reducing greenhouse gas emissions in a pioneering project in the Middle East. As part of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques, captured CO2 emissions that have been converted into supercritical CO2 are pumped into depleted oil reservoirs to push the remaining oil to the riser, allowing much higher recovery rates. The pumped CO2 is then stored in the underground oil field, providing a perfect storage medium for the greenhouse gas. This circular process has the power to transform the oil and gas industry by reducing CO2 emissions while simultaneously maximizing recovery from existing oil fields – reducing the need for further oil exploration.

It is widely acknowledged that the traditional primary and secondary recovery methods for oil can leave up to 75% of the oil in the ground. Oil production from mature fields has therefore been declining and discoveries of new reservoirs will be insufficient to match growing energy demands. To reduce the need for further oil exploration, enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques are now coming to the fore, with this method using captured CO2 emissions that have been converted into supercritical CO2, showing particular promise.

Sulzer’s highly specialized pumps allow the CO2 to be pumped like a liquid, sweeping through a reservoir to push the oil to the riser with much higher efficiency than traditional methods using water. At the same time, the depleted oil fields then provide a perfect storage medium for the CO2, ensuring that it is not released into the atmosphere.

This pioneering process could therefore be a major benefit for the oil industry, providing new technology to help maximize recovery from existing oil fields, thereby reducing the need for further oil exploration, while also cutting CO2 emissions. Sulzer’s expertise is critical to the process, as the lightness and extremely high pressure of supercritical CO2 have a significant impact on the design of the pump, with most manufacturers steering clear of such applications.

Courtesy of Sulzer.