Capturing CO2 and injecting it into a well to squeeze more oil out of the ground is not real carbon sequestration. Why? When the recovered oil is burned, it releases at least as much CO2 as was stored (and possibly much more). Therefore, CO2 used for such enhanced oil recovery (EOR) does not reduce net carbon emissions and should not be sold to the public as a carbon offset.
Yet a company, Blue Source, LLC, proposes to do just that, to capture the CO2 from a fertilizer plant, pipe it to an oil field, and inject it into wells for EOR :
The deal will cut CO2 from the plant by about 650,000 tonnes per year by permanently storing the emissions in the oil fields, he said. The U.S. Department of Energy says that capturing CO2 from power plants for enhanced oil recovery could greatly boost U.S. oil reserves while permanently keeping CO2 from reaching the atmosphere.
Uhh, no. To repeat, if the captured CO2 is used to extract oil that releases CO2 when it is burned, then how is that offsetting anything?
The key ratio is CO2 injected vs. CO2 released from recovered oil. Fortunately, BP and UCLA did that life-cycle analysis (subs. req’d) in 2001 and concluded, “the EOR activity is almost carbon-neutral when comparing net storage potential and gasoline emissions from the additional oil extracted.” And that may be optimistic. The study notes: