News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, Oct. 15, 1999
Partners in the six-year project are the Kansas Geological Survey, the Tertiary Oil Recovery Project (both at KU), Shell CO2 Company Ltd., MV Energy, LLC, of Wichita, and the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing.
The project focuses on the Hall-Gurney Field in southern Russell and northern Barton counties. The field 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 KU project will demonstrate the feasibility of producing additional oil from the field by pumping carbon dioxide and water into the rock formation that holds the oil and will analyze how effectively the carbon dioxide pushes petroleum out of the pore space in the rocks.
"If we can show that carbon dioxide flooding works here, it may eventually be used to produce an additional half-billion barrels of Kansas oil that would otherwise be left in the ground," said Survey geologist Alan Byrnes.
This technology has been used to enhance production from oil fields in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. 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 flooding may be able to add 35 percent more oil than has been previously produced from these reservoirs," said Paul Willhite, co-director of KU's Tertiary Oil Recovery Project.
Working on a 40-acre site with wells owned and operated by MV Energy, the plan is to pump carbon dioxide down one well to a depth of about 2900 feet, where oil is produced from a limestone layer called the Lansing-Kansas City group. Oil and carbon dioxide will then be produced from four surrounding wells. The carbon dioxide will be recovered from the oil and pumped underground again to produce more oil.
If the project is successful, and if the technique is then 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 from the Lansing-Kansas City and other rock formations, it could lead to additional production of up to 850 million barrels of oil.
"This is the kind of project that is necessary to keep wells in older fields from being plugged and abandoned," said Byrnes. "This may be a way to extend the life of Kansas oil fields for several decades."
Researchers from the Kansas Geological Survey and the Tertiary Oil Recovery Project will study the characteristics of the rocks that produce the oil, analyze core samples, and map the rocks' characteristics. They will also create computer models of the movement of the carbon dioxide, analyze its effectiveness in producing more oil, and pass along the results of their work to petroleum operators in the state.
Shell CO2 is providing the carbon dioxide, which will be shipped in by truck. If the project is successful, it could encourage investors to construct a pipeline to bring carbon dioxide into the state.
The Department of Energy funding will be provided to KU's Center for Research, Inc. (KU's research administration corporation) and the KU Energy Research Center. In addition to the $1.9 million from DOE, the project's partners are contributing another $3.5 million in services and financing, for a total project cost of $5.4 million. Initial funding for the project was provided by the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC).