back to article 'Squeeze green oil from North Sea by squirting CO2 in' - prof

A top boffin working for major energy companies says that Blighty could enjoy a second North Sea oil bonanza - by squirting surplus CO2 from factory chimneys down into exhausted fields, so forcing more oil up the wells. In a study funded by European energy megacorp DONG and industry geoscience consultants Ikon Science, …


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  1. Tim Worstal

    Subsidy not needed

    There's no up front money needed here.

    BP wanted to try this, stripping the H out of natural gas, burning the H at Peterhead and pumping the CO2 down old oil fields to bring up the last of the oil.

    They didn't need subsidy....but what they did ask for was a reduction in the royalties paid to the government for the last barrels of oil that were pumped up.

    Quite rightly, the government takes a large chunk of the value of North Sea oil. BP's argument was, well, yes, that's fine. But if we don't put the CO2 down there then the oil won't come up at all and so the Treasury will get nothing. Let us have a lower royalty rate as we work out how to do this CO2 burial stuff and you'll get something at least.

    One Geo. Brown decided against this. So, the BP scheme isn't happening and the Treasury is getting nothing from the oil remaining under the North Sea.

    Offer reduced royalty rates on the oil so forced up and the oil companies will be falling over themselves to do it.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      @Tim Worstall

      "BP wanted to try this, stripping the H out of natural gas, burning the H at Peterhead and pumping the CO2 down old oil fields to bring up the last of the oil"

      Stripping the "H" out of natural gas? Burning Hydrogen gives you water. They wanted to inject steam into the wells? If you meant C AFAIK most of it is bound into a complex mix of compounds with H and some other elements. They call it crude oil.

      "One Geo. Brown decided against this."

      A Minister in a Labor government of the 1970s?

      This has been around a *long* time if so.

      Yes I am being picky. Your post might be interesting or complete pish.

      I can't decide which.

    2. madflier

      H + O2 --> ?

      You may be right about BP plans, but you're not right about how they're doing it. You don't get any CO2 from burning hydrogen...

  2. The Other Steve
    Thumb Up

    Carbon capture, storage, transport problems ? Try new improved Dry Water!

    "Cooper and co-workers found that dry water absorbed over three times as much carbon dioxide as ordinary, uncombined water and silica in the same space of time. This ability to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide gas as a hydrate could make it useful in helping to reduce global warming, the scientists suggested."

    Methane also. Nifty.

    As for the whole plan, it will never happen if it has to be done by government fiat, because no matter how carbon neutral it is, it still involves the words 'oil' and 'consumption' and is therefore raping Gaia. And therefore hysterical baying mobs of Guardianistas will gather and demand the death penalty for all who support it, irrespective of any real world benefits it might have.

  3. King Edward I

    Nice to see...

    ...that despite turning 23 recently, I still have the mind of a six year old. "In a study funded by European energy megacorp DONG" made me giggle like the big child I blatently still am :D

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Nice to see...

      Me too.

      The prospect of of this mega DONG thrusting deeply into holes full of useful lubricants to squirt out CO2 under pressure gave me a severe attack of the schoolboy sniggers.

    2. Stone Fox

      you're not alone!

      I'm 31 and my first instinct was to skip straight to the comments and write something along the lines of;-

      hur hur huur... he sed DONG! hur huhur hur....

  4. Rogerborg

    Why pay to pump oil up now?

    Just pump the cheap stuff out from under Saudi Arabia, then go back for the dregs in 20 years when the price is sky high and the peasants will pay anything to keep their automocars running.

    Note: the people actually making the decisions live in Monte Carlo - they don't give a fig about such petty things as national interests.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why pay to pump oil up now?

      "Just pump the cheap stuff out from under Saudi Arabia, then go back for the dregs in 20 years when the price is sky high and the peasants will pay anything to keep their automocars running."

      Indeed, this is how these companies work. Why bother doing anything more than the minimum necessary to keep the product shipping at current levels of profitability (or better)? The fact that Worstall points out some ruse or other by BP to get the taxpayer to foot part of the bill for some project just shows that doing what is "strategically right for the nation" (or however you want to look at it) isn't going to trump revenues, profits and dividends, especially for a company like BP whose connection to the British nation is mainly historical.

      On the North Sea front, Statoil have been pumping carbon dioxide underground for a while, albeit not to extract anything as a result. Whether they're doing this to avoid emissions liabilities (possible despite the concessions the offshore industry seems to enjoy) or because the Norwegian government (as majority owner) has to push them to do something in order to not look like hypocrites on the whole climate change thing, it's fairly certain that no independent, multinational oil company is going to do this kind of thing on a large scale without either being punished for not doing so or being permitted to hold the corporate hand out for some taxpayer-funded benefits, just to keep those all-important shareholders happy, of course.

      The last thing Britain needs is an excuse to keeping sucking on the teat of Big Oil, however.

  5. Sam Liddicott

    co2 - h2o

    Is the CO2 a red-herring? What happened to pushing see water down there to force up the oil.

    1. The Other Steve

      That would be geo-engineering ...

      "What happened to pushing see water down there to force up the oil."

      .. because it might reduce sea levels*, and is therefore raping Gaia. All technological methods to combat climate change are evil, because that way we don't have to repent for our sins, see ?

      This is considered quite nifty thinking in some circles.

      *just a tiiiny amount.

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Sea water injection

      Already done. It's bloody expensive because water is so heavy and because the water has to be purified before injection so it doesn't clog up the reservoir with small particles of grit and microscopic beasties.

      CO2 is used because its easier to handle and in the case of most oils, actually makes them less viscous and easier to recover.

      What the article doesn't mention is that the Texan CO2 is coming from natural gas wells. Gas companies remove the CO2 before putting it into the pipelines because it dilutes the useful product. It's easy to recover and transport. Capturing it from combustion is a much harder task.

      1. Atherton20

        CO2 easier than water injection?

        Erm, when you say C02 is easier to handle than water, you're not talking about the UK oil industry. The phase change and compressibility issues with getting CO2 from power stations out the platforms in the middle of the North Sea are pretty much un-resolved.

        Meanwhile the transportation costs for water are low becasue, erm, rigs are surronded by the stuff. And since most platforms nowadays prefer produced water re-injection (PWRI) rather than taking a hit on oil-to-sea measured in the parts per million, I'd suggest solids clean up is relatively triffling (environmental impact of surfactants aside - but when did DEC ever think things through?).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Say what?

    "extra oil could be squeezed out of the North Sea using carbon emitted from handily-situated northeastern UK industries"

    What industries? Most of the big players up'd sticks and moved on years ago. How about re-opening some of those super pits, of which some where profitable, build a coal fired power station next to it and then supply lots of CO2 to the oil fields. Win win, lots of jobs again in the pits, more leccy, and a bit more oil.

    1. The Other Steve


      "How about re-opening some of those super pits, of which some where profitable"

      Couple of mines in Wales (Unity and one I don't recall the name of) have been re-opened, and there are (or were) plans to re open others around and about the place.

      It's only in the last few years that it has become economical to do so as the price of coal has risen, and the cost of the technology required to un-mothball pits has fallen.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Longer term thinking required

    Investing gobs of taxpayer money for 5 years supply of oil sounds like a big FAIL to me. Assuming it actually works, what's the benefit after the oil is gone? Why isn't anyone thinking about the future, after all the oil is gone? People will still be here, wondering why their cars and the light switch doesn't work anymore. We should be investing big time in anything promising that's NOT oil. Instead of the greedtards.

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      The benefit is...

      ...that in five years time the country is £60bn (or whatever the net benefit is) better off. Then you have lots more money to spend on the schemes to keep the light switch working.

      Your use of the neologism "greedtards" makes me wonder if you might be one of these people who think you can spend money without earning it.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Why invest?

      I guess the Treasury would invest if it thinks it's going to get more back in taxes than it put in (plus interest, inflation, etc.). Investing in one thing that gives you money doesn't *necessarily* (although it might in practice) preclude you from investing in another thing.

    3. James 6

      Kind of...

      I can sort of see what you are saying here, but there is no one big magic answer to fix the mess that humankind has got itself into. What this means is that new ways (probably many different ways) need to be developed to fix the problem. That takes time, years and years of it.

      To be able to squeeze another 20 years (not sure where you get 5 years from as the article says a conservative estimate of 20 years worth) of oil while finding somewhere to put lots of that nasty CO2 is a temporary win in my book.

      I think everyone knows it's not the answer to the problem, but it does give a little extra time to find the real answer(s) to the problems we face. It also has the side benefit of solving a little of our economic problem as well.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

    Okay, so we have the oil industrial equivalent of waking up from whatever heap you fell in to at a party and then going around the Mary Celeste beer can aftermath and forming your breakfast from all the little slurps left in each can, except here the beer cans are oil pockets and the oil fields are the party...

    ..not that I'm saying it isn't a good idea for desperate times, but if this is profitable now we really need to be heavily investing in an alternative source of booze, maybe one with a lower chance of accidentally guzzling a spent fag.

  9. Chris 22

    Makeing the carbon capature gear

    Could be profitable for us as well?

    Aside from finding the capital to invest I don't really see what's not to like from a national interest perspective.

  10. Jonathan Walsh

    Fizzy oil

    Won't the oil come out all fizzy?

    1. hplasm

      The advantage being-

      by dropping a giant Mento down the hole, no pumping is required...

    2. Stuart Elliott

      Industrial SodaStream

      Get busy with the fizzy. (tm).

  11. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Fizzy oil

    They will just use that to justify the cost.

    New naturally sparkling perrier oil

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    If the CEO of Yahoo! was the "Chief Yahoo!"....

    I think you can see where I'm going with this.

  13. Tim Worstal again

    "You may be right about BP plans, but you're not right about how they're doing it. You don't get any CO2 from burning hydrogen..."

    They wanted to bring in natural gas, strip the H from it, leaving CO2. Then burn hte H and pump he CO2 into the oil field.

    ,,,,and yes, Gordon, not George Brown. mea culpa.

  14. Richard Brown

    CO2 is an acid

    Carbon Dioxide is acidic. This makes it relatively easy to capture from large sources such as power station flues using existing technology such as amine plants.

    Transport to and injecting it into the reservoir shouldn't be a problem as this will be new infrastructure designed for that purpose and the Carbon Dioxide will be dry.

    However, once in the reservoir it will percolate through to the wells and back up to the platform with the oil. The problem is that Carbon Dioxide is acidic, especially where there is a lot of water around, and there always is. At high pressures and temperatures found in the reservoirs this becomes very corrosive and attacks the pipes used to line the wells, and suddenly you don't have a well anymore. You can fix this but you have to reline the wells with expensive corrosion resistant steels.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Spot on.

      CO2 Corrosion is quite a big issue in the industry already. If the CO2 they pipe out offshore is dry then its not so much of a problem, but once they start producing from wells with increasing amounts of CO2 and a high water cut all the Carbon Steel flowlines will corrode pretty quickly. Using duplex is bloody expensive so it would take the price of oil / gas going up pretty high before that would be cost effective. The other option is to pump huge amounts of nasty inhibitor downhole which doestn exactly chime with the 'green' benfits of sequestering carbon.

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