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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, Sept. 22, 2003

Survey Receives $2.3 Million DOE Grant

LAWRENCE--Geophysicists at the Kansas Geological Survey, based at the University of Kansas, have received a $2.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to use a geophysical technique--seismic reflection--to study the movement of carbon dioxide being used to enhance oil production from a field in central Kansas.

The grant is the largest single contract ever awarded to the Survey.

Seismic reflection, a technique that is somewhat similar to the sonograms used by physicians, is commonly used in the oil industry to produce a detailed image of the subsurface. A pulse of sound is set off at the earth's surface, usually through specially built trucks. The sound wave bounces off of underground rocks, then is recorded at the surface. Because different types of rocks reflect the sound waves in different ways, the result can be used to create an image of the subsurface, without drilling.

KU researchers and industry partners previously received a grant from the Department of Energy to test the use of carbon dioxide to flush additional oil from the Hall-Gurney field, southeast of Russell. They plan to begin pumping carbon dioxide into the field's oil-producing rocks, about 3000 feet underground, early this fall.

While carbon dioxide has been used to produce additional oil from long-established fields in other parts of country, it has not been tried in Kansas. Researchers believe it has the potential to push hundreds of millions of barrels of additional oil from Kansas fields, many of which are similar to the Hall-Gurney.

This new grant will allow Survey scientists to use seismic reflection to study the effectiveness of using carbon dioxide to produce additional oil. It will also reveal how well the carbon dioxide stays within the boundary of the oil reservoir after the injection process is finished.

Survey geophysicists plan to obtain seismic data from the field before carbon dioxide is pumped underground. They will run additional seismic surveys while the carbon dioxide is being injected, and again after the use of carbon dioxide at the field is complete.

"We want to see if seismic reflection can tell us exactly where the injected carbon dioxide is going, if it is producing oil efficiently, if there are areas where it is by-passing the oil, and how the use of carbon dioxide for enhanced recovery can be improved," said Survey geophysicist Rick Miller. "This should tell us not only how well this enhanced-recovery project is working and help us adjust the production scheme, it will also help us learn if seismic reflection can be routinely used for monitoring carbon dioxide injection in other fields around the mid-continent."

Links of interest to this article:
4-D Seismic Monitoring of CO2 Injection

Story by Rex Buchanan, (785) 864-2106
For more information, contact Rick Miller, (785) 864-2091

Kansas Geological Survey, Public Outreach