Climate-Change Paradox: Greenhouse Gas Is Big Oil Boon

By Clayton, Mark | The Christian Science Monitor, September 11, 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Climate-Change Paradox: Greenhouse Gas Is Big Oil Boon

Clayton, Mark, The Christian Science Monitor

Gazing across a rejuvenated old West Texas oil field, Larry Adams sings the praises of carbon dioxide.

That might seem odd. The gas is linked to global warming, which has prompted calls from governments and environmentalists alike to reduce oil use. But here at the SACROC field in America's fading oil belt, CO2 is providing the boost the industry needs.

By pumping the greenhouse gas deep underground, oil companies are squeezing out more oil and providing new life to fields that have been declining for decades. But if the companies can capture the carbon dioxide that other industries produce, then the greenhouse gas may become cheap and plentiful enough to be a boon to Big Oil.

"This process of using CO2 for enhanced oil recovery is just a niche today, but if other man-made sources became available, it could become a boom," says Mr. Adams, CO2 engineering manager for Kinder Morgan, the nation's largest transporter of CO2 for enhanced oil recovery or EOR.

The Houston-based company mines most of its CO2 from natural deposits in Colorado. It pipes the gas to West Texas oil fields where it is injected a mile beneath the surface. Despite steady growth in EOR production since 2000, it accounts for only about 5 percent of US production - some 240,000 barrels a day.

Now, Kinder Morgan and a few other companies envision greatly expanding that amount - if they can transport CO2 emissions that would be captured by power plants, cement factories, and other industrial facilities.

Capturing carbon dioxide at plants and factories - rather than spewing it into the atmosphere - is one of the few near-term solutions to global warming that's receiving serious consideration. Under this scenario, companies would bury the greenhouse gases they produce in deep saline aquifers - a process called sequestration.

Some environmentalists say EOR could speed the move to sequestration.

"We see EOR as a great ally for carbon sequestration," says A. Scott Anderson, energy policy adviser for Environmental Defense, a New York-based environmental group.

With the natural CO2 available for EOR in short supply, a few companies are scrambling to begin collecting some of the 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide that the US emits each year. If enough of this man-made gas were made available, it could quadruple America's recoverable oil reserves to an estimated 89 billion barrels, the US Energy Department reported last year.

Among the projects under way or under consideration:

* Blue Source, LLC, a company that helps businesses slash their carbon emissions, announced a deal last month to capture CO2 emissions from a Kansas fertilizer plant and inject it into an aging oil field nearby.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Climate-Change Paradox: Greenhouse Gas Is Big Oil Boon


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?