American Coal - Issue 1, 2017 - 28
A Win‑Win‑Win for Energy, the
Economy, and the Environment
By Janet Gellici, National Coal Council
The U.S. has the opportunity to produce
billions of barrels of domestic oil and
generate new sources of revenue, while
simultaneously reducing significant
volumes of carbon dioxide (CO2).
CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (CO2‑EOR)
represents the most immediate, highest
value opportunity to utilize the greatest
volume of anthropogenic CO2 - estimated
at up to 77,500 MMmt of captured CO2.
CO2‑EOR provides significant economic
benefits and new revenue to a variety of
stakeholders - with generated revenues
estimated at $5.7 billion. CO2‑EOR also has
the potential to recover up to 284 billion
barrels of oil, representing about 69% of
the United States' estimated domestic oil
resources of 414 bb.
The National Coal Council, a federally
chartered advisory group to the U.S.
Secretary of Energy, recently completed
a report for then Energy Secretary Ernest
Moniz assessing market opportunities
for CO2 from coal‑based power plants.
This article highlights key findings and
recommendations from the report,
"CO2 Building Blocks: Assessing CO2
FOR CO2 - HURDLES
Fossil fuels - including coal, natural gas
and oil - will remain the dominant global
energy source well into the future by virtue
of their abundance, supply security and
affordability. There is a growing consensus
among industry, the environmental
community and governments worldwide
that future CO2 emission reduction
goals cannot be met by renewable
energy sources alone and that carbon
capture, utilization and storage (CCUS)
technologies for all fossil fuels will have to
be deployed to achieve climate objectives.
The development of commercial markets
for captured CO2 can help promote the
deployment of CCUS.
In its CO2 Building Blocks report, the
NCC assessed a variety of markets for
CO2 and the potential of those markets
to incentivize CCUS. Geologic and
non‑geologic markets were evaluated.
Geologic markets include technologies
such as EOR, enhanced coal bed
methane (ECBM), CO2 shale, and less
developed options such as enhance
water recovery (EWR) and geothermal
and subsurface energy storage.
Non‑geologic markets include chemical
products and other value‑added
products, such as inorganic carbonates
and bicarbonates, plastics and
polymers, fuels, and fertilizers, as well
as food and beverages - dry ice, baking
soda and carbonated drinks.
Utilizing CO2 in non‑geologic applications
faces a host of hurdles, including:
* Current U.S. policies that arguably favor
American Coal | Issue 1 2017 | Americancoalcouncil.org
* The immature status of nearly
all non‑geologic CO2 utilization
* Logistical and infrastructure issues
related to either the siting of CO2
utilization facilities close to utility
or industrial CO2‑emitting plants or
transporting CO2 from these plants to
remote CO2 utilization facilities.
* Market limits and impediments, e.g.,
products derived from CO2 presumably
would be competing against and
endeavoring to displace comparable
products made from other feedstocks.
* Technical barriers involved in the
successful reduction of CO2 to carbon
products, including thermodynamics and
kinetics (see sidebar).
Among geologic utilization technologies,
CO2‑EOR and ECBM are already
commercialized while others, such as
saline storage and CO2 shale, remain
subject to ongoing research and have not
yet emerged as commercially available
technologies at scale.
Taking into consideration policy
objectives and timelines, the volume
of CO2 needed to be used/stored, the
technology's commercial status and
technical limitations, it's clear that
CO2‑EOR remains the most immediate,
highest value opportunity to utilize CO2 at
scale and with the promise of some level of
economic return. Given the technology's
potential to produce significant quantities
of domestic oil, CO2‑EOR also represents
significant potential in supporting U.S.
objectives to achieve energy security and
THE PROMISE OF CO2 ‑EOR2
CO2‑EOR has been underway in onshore,
Lower 48 (states) oil reservoirs for more
than 40 years. Based on the 2014 Oil