Saturday, 9 October 2010


I’ve just met with a company that wants to use carbon dioxide to enhance oil recovery (EOR) beneath the North Sea. Although I have become the European Parliament’s in-house expert on carbon capture and storage issues (CCS) this was the first time I can recall people talking to me seriously about developing EOR in Europe.

The principle is simple. By pumping CO2 into the rock that bears oil you flush out more of it than will come to the surface naturally. Most of the CO2 stays underground, but what comes back up to the surface with the oil gets captured and pumped back down again for permanent storage.

Enhanced oil recovery has been carried out in the USA for decades, but for the most part the carbon dioxide has come not from power plants where it is a by product of fuel burning but has been extracted from dormant volcanoes and piped for hundreds of miles specifically for the purpose.

Applied in Britain it could allow us to gain value from the North Sea oilfields for decades longer than will otherwise be the case, while reducing our CO2 emissions into the atmosphere at the same time.

One of the most interesting meetings I have had in a long time.

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