In the midst of the election season, with partisan politics in full force, a group of Senators came together to introduce legislation that aims to achieve a win for energy security, the environment and the economy in the U.S. In September, Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced bi-partisan legislation that supports expansion of carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR).
What is CO2-EOR? CO2-EOR takes CO2 captured from power plants and industrial facilities and puts it to productive use yielding additional oil from existing wells, while storing that CO2 safely underground. CO2-EOR is a commercially proven technology and represents 6% of domestic oil production, using 65 million tons of CO2 per year. More domestic oil could be produced through CO2-EOR from existing fields using already developed land and infrastructure, if additional CO2 were available through deployment of carbon capture at a range of facilities such as ethanol, coal, and fertilizer plants.
Why is CO2-EOR important? According to Brad Crabtree, Policy Director for the Great Plains Institute, “CO2-EOR provides a commercially proven pathway to advance carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) projects that have significant potential to increase domestic oil production while reducing carbon emissions from a range of industries.”
The legislation improves the existing Section 45Q Tax Credit for Carbon Dioxide Sequestration to secure private sector investment in critical, near-term projects to capture CO2 from power plants and industrial sources for use in EOR projects. These improvements will help these initial projects get across the finish line and into commercial operation.
The bill reflects recommendations of the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative (NEORI), a broad coalition of leaders from industry, labor, state government, and environmental groups (NEORI participant list). NEORI’s recommendations were welcomed earlier this year at an event on Capitol Hill by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) and with statements of support from Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT), John Hoeven (R-ND), Richard Lugar (R-IN), and Congressman Rick Berg (R-ND).
NEORI is convened by the Great Plains Institute and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES).