Increasing oil production and reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Jan 12, 2011 5:40 PM ET

(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) January 12, 2011 - Cenovus operates the 210-square-kilometre Weyburn field in southeastern Saskatchewan. When it was discovered in 1954, the Weyburn field contained one of the largest medium-sour crude oil reservoirs in Canada, with approximately 1.4 billion barrels of oil in place. The Weyburn field has benefited from a series of innovative developments that Cenovus has applied to produce more oil from the reservoir. These include flooding the reservoir with non-potable, saline water; drilling multi-leg horizontal wells; and applying enhanced oil recovery methods using carbon dioxide (CO2) as a flooding agent. When CO2 contacts oil at high pressure, it essentially acts as a solvent, making the oil thinner and causing it to swell. This makes it easier for oil to flow to nearby producing wells.

  These efforts have significantly increased the amount of oil recovered, extended the productive life of the maturing field, and safely sequestered more than 16 million tonnes of CO2 deep underground at the end of 2009.   Weyburn has proven to be the ideal site for the International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas Weyburn-Midale CO2 Monitoring and Storage Project, which studies Cenovus’s CO2 flood operations. This world-class, independent research initiative is managed by the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) in Regina, Saskatchewan, and is one of the first research projects on CO2 sequestration endorsed by the International Energy Agency (IEA).   In 2004, the results from the first phase of the research project, involving independent academic, institutional and commercial scientists and engineers, confirmed the suitability of the reservoir at Weyburn for safe, long-term storage of CO2 (full report is on the PTRC website). The second and final phase of the research project is currently underway. Cenovus is partnering with industry and government to work with international researchers through the PTRC to develop best practice guidelines for future carbon capture and storage projects. The Canadian and U.S. governments jointly announced renewed funding for the research project, with the Canadian government contributing an extra $2.2 million and the U.S. government contributing an additional U.S. $3 million.   Weyburn shows that CO2 injection has the potential to be an important technology because it maximizes recovery of already limited oil reserves while reducing greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. Cenovus’s commitment to operational excellence, coupled with collaborative relationships between governments, researchers and industry, helps sites like Weyburn to be productive and environmentally responsible.