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Abu Dhabi May Inject CO2 in Offshore Fields to Boost Output

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. may start injecting carbon dioxide instead of natural gas into its offshore fields to enhance oil recovery, according to an official from the company’s Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Co. unit.

“We are looking at CO2 injection offshore,” Ali al-Muhairy, senior vice-president of development at Adma-Opco, as the unit is known, said today at a conference in Abu Dhabi. “We have tried using natural gas; now we are looking at CO2.” He declined to give a timeframe for the project to start.

Abu Dhabi National, or Adnoc, is looking at ways to reduce the oil industry’s use of the 5 billion cubic feet of gas produced daily in the U.A.E. so that the fuel can be used to meet soaring power and industrial demand. Gas is used to increase pressure inside reservoirs to push more crude out.

Adnoc is working with Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company Masdar to capture carbon. One plan under consideration is to build a plant next to Emirates Steel Industries PJSC to capture 800,000 metric tons of CO2 a year, al-Muhairy said.

“Enhanced oil recovery will have to be a part of sustaining production,” he said. Adnoc is planning to boost output to 3.5 million barrels a day by 2017, from about 2.8 million now, and “we may see more,” al-Muhairy said.

Adnoc’s onshore unit, Abu Dhabi Co. for Onshore Oil Operations, has completed a pilot project to inject 1.2 million cubic feet of CO2 a day into the Rumaitha field and is now planning a further four to five pilot projects for 2013 and 2014, according to SCAL Discipline Expert Zubair Kalam.

Carbon Supply

Expanding the pilot to the entire Rumaitha field would require 20 or 30 times that amount of carbon and would increase the oil recovered by as much as 10 percent, he said. Using CO2 to increase oil recovery in all the onshore fields would add 7 billion barrels of crude production, he said.

“I’ve seen estimates of 400 million to 500 million cubic feet a day if we were to use CO2 for all Adco’s fields,” Kalam said. “From 2020 onwards, we will have to depend a lot on enhanced oil recovery if we want to maintain production. The big question is still on CO2 supply,” he said.

Current production costs are about $5 a barrel, rising to more than $20 a barrel including the cost of CO2 injection, he said. Masdar is sourcing CO2 for the pilot projects.

Abu Dhabi is the capital city and main oil producer in the United Arab Emirates. The country supplied 2.65 million barrels a day of oil last month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, making it the fifth-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

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