Use of Carbon Dioxide in Enhanced Oil Recovery

Science  11 May 1984:
Vol. 224, Issue 4649, pp. 563-569
DOI: 10.1126/science.224.4649.563


Large volumes of oil will remain in U.S. oil reservoirs when standard recovery methods have been completed. Supercritical carbon dioxide can be used to recover part of that remaining oil. If carbon dioxide is dense enough, it extracts hydrocarbons from the oil to make a mixture miscible with crude oil. Such a mixture can recover 95 percent of the oil in controlled laboratory flow settings. Heterogeneity of reservoir rocks and the low viscosity of carbon dioxide reduce the fraction of oil recovered in projects to lower but still significant levels. With the construction of three pipelines to carry naturally occurring carbon dioxide from Colorado and New Mexico to Permian basin oil fields, large-scale implementation of enhanced oil recovery by carbon dioxide flooding is now beginning.