Can producing oil store carbon? greenhouse gas footprint of CO2EOR, offshore north sea

R. Jamie Stewart*, R. Stuart Haszeldine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (CO2EOR) is a proven and available technology used to produce incremental oil from depleted fields while permanently storing large tonnages of injected CO2. Although this technology has been used successfully onshore in North America and Europe, there are currently no CO2EOR projects in the United Kingdom. Here, we examine whether offshore CO2EOR can store more CO2 than onshore projects traditionally have and whether CO2 storage can offset additional emissions produced through offshore operations and incremental oil production. Using a high-level Life Cycle system approach, we find that the largest contribution to offshore emissions is from flaring or venting of reproduced CH4 and CO2. These can already be greatly reduced by regulation. If CO2 injection is continued after oil production has been optimized, then offshore CO2EOR has the potential to be carbon negative - even when emissions from refining, transport, and combustion of produced crude oil are included. The carbon intensity of oil produced can be just 0.056-0.062 tCO2e/bbl if flaring/venting is reduced by regulation. This compares against conventional Saudi oil 0.040 tCO2e/bbl or mined shale oil >0.300 tCO2e/bbl.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5788-5795
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2015


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