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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, Sept. 25, 2000

KU Scientists Begin Drilling in Russell County

LAWRENCE--Drilling started this week in Russell County on a University of Kansas project that will study the use of carbon dioxide to produce additional oil from an established field.

Researchers from the Kansas Geological Survey and the Tertiary Oil Recovery Project at KU are working with Murfin Drilling to install a well that will be used to pump carbon dioxide at a pilot project in the Hall-Gurney oil field southeast of Russell.

The researchers expect the well to be completed in early October. They plan to analyze information from the well, then will begin injecting carbon dioxide into the well early next spring. The carbon dioxide should force oil out of the rocks, oil that was left behind during earlier phases of pumping.

The project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Kinder-Morgan CO2 Company L.P., and MV Energy LLC, is aimed at demonstrating the feasibility of using of carbon dioxide to produce additional oil from an aging field.

The Hall-Gurney field in southern Russell and northern Barton counties has produced about 152 million barrels of oil since its discovery in 1931. In recent years, however, production from the field has dropped from around 3.1 million barrels in 1966 to about 596,000 barrels in 1998.

The new well is being drilled to about 3000 feet. Researchers plan to take core samples--cylinder-shaped rock samples--when the well is about 2900 feet deep. That is when the well should encounter oil-producing rock formations.

"The core samples will tell us how much residual oil remains in the rock," said Survey geologist Alan Byrnes. "We'll also analyze the core for other rock characteristics, such as the amount of pore space and fluid-flow properties. We will use that information when we get ready to inject carbon dioxide."

Carbon dioxide flooding has been used to enhance production from oil fields in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, but it has not been applied before in Kansas, in part because there is no ready source of carbon dioxide, and in part because there is limited knowledge about the suitability of the oil reservoirs for such production. Carbon dioxide will be trucked to the Russell County site.

If the project is successful, and if the technique is applied throughout the Hall-Gurney field, researchers estimate that it could generate another 15 to 21 million barrels of oil. If the technique is successfully applied to Kansas fields that produce oil from rock formations similar to those in the Hall-Gurney, it could lead to additional production of up to a billion barrels of oil.

"If we can show that carbon dioxide flooding works here, it may eventually be used to produce millions of barrels of Kansas oil that would otherwise be left in the ground," said Byrnes. "This may be a way to extend the life of Kansas oil fields for several decades."

Story by Rex Buchanan, (785) 864-2106
For more information, contact Tim Carr, 785-864-2135

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