Abu Dhabi is using CO2 captured from steel plants to feed an EOR programme at its Rumaitha and Bab fields
Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC) has outlined ambitious plans for the deployment of sequestered carbon dioxide (CO2) for injection to increase production at maturing onshore oilfields. The CO2 is being emitted by the emirate’s major industrial facilities.
The initiative combines three core components of corporate strategy – to raise crude recovery rates, to optimise gas use and to lessen the environmental impact of operations. State counterpart Saudi Aramco has also been testing the technology – propelled by similar imperatives.
ADNOC announced an agreement on January 11 to acquire from Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co. (Masdar) – the government’s dedicated clean energy development vehicle – the 49% held by the latter in the Al-Reyadah joint venture (JV). This was established in 2016 to formalise the partnership of the two parastatals in developing the emirate’s first carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) project.
Commissioned at the same time, the estimated US$120 million scheme captures around 800,000 tonnes of CO2 from two steel plants at the Mussafah Industrial Area owned by state-owned Emirates Steel, and compresses and dehydrates the gas.
The plant’s output is then piped to ADNOC’s Rumaitha and Bab onshore oilfields for injection to boost recovery rates – while freeing up natural gas for alternative uses.
Al-Reyadah will be absorbed into the conglomerate’s ADNOC Onshore subsidiary, which operates the main onshore fields.
Launching the debut project just over a year ago, officials spoke of the potential for the Mussafah facility’s expansion, while ADNOC’s 2030 Strategy – likewise unveiled in November 2016 – focussed heavily on gas optimisation, including the use of CO2 in oil recovery.
An announcement on January 17 laid out the plans and targets with a new level of detail. The company intends to expand CCUS capacity to meet an envisaged six-fold increase in the use of CO2 in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) – to 250 mmcf (7.1 mcm) per day by 2027. Total emissions in the energy-intensive emirate are believed to stand at 1.5 bcf (42 mcm) per day.
The benefits in terms not only of conserving natural gas but also for achieving recovery rates unrealisable through primary and secondary recovery techniques were also enumerated. Rates of up to 70% were deemed possible compared to a global average of 30-35% and ADNOC’s current maximum of 50%.
“As we push forward plans to create value by maximising oil recovery over the lifetime of our fields, we will increasingly utilise a range of EOR technologies, of which CCUS is not only good for the environment but also makes sound business sense,” enthused Abdulmunim al-Kindy, Director of ADNOC’s Upstream Directorate.
Other industrial facilities mooted for CCUS at the time of the steel plants’ selection included the Emirates Aluminium smelter, the Shuweihat hydrogen plant and the Taweelah power and desalination facility.
Upstream, an expansion is due for completion this year at the Rumaitha and adjacent Shanayel fields to raise combined production to 85,000 bpd, with further development now at the contractor prequalification stage, while the main EPC contract was awarded in November on an estimated US$2 billion project at Bab to increase capacity by around 30,000 bpd to 450,000 bpd.
The Bu Hasa and Asab fields, ADNOC Onshore’s most-prolific, have also in the past been mentioned as suitable for CO2 injection – and are both being prepared for expansions, potentially including installation of the requisite facilities.
Expertise in EOR in general was among the criteria employed by ADNOC when selecting new international partners in the onshore concession. The process was belatedly concluded early last year and resulted in stakes for global heavyweights BP and Total – lead operators respectively of Bab and Bu Hasa.
China National Petroleum Co. (CNPC), which has been engaged in EOR at maturing domestic oilfields, accompanied acquisition of a sizeable holding with a pledge to establish a hub in Abu Dhabi dedicated to developing technologies for maximising recovery at mature fields.
ADNOC debuted CO2 injection in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) with a pilot in 2009 and has since been joined by fellow state oil giant Saudi Aramco – similarly facing a national shortage of rich gas.
In 2015, the kingdom launched a pilot CCUS project capturing 40 mmcf (1.1 mcm) per day of waste CO2 from the Hawiyah NGL recovery plant in the supergiant Ghawar onshore oilfield for high-pressure injection into reservoirs at the nearby Uthmaniyah production zone.
Like ADNOC, the Saudi firm has mooted raising recovery rates to 70% through the wider deployment of such technology at ageing fields. As the company prepares to invite investors to participate in a hotly-anticipated initial public offering (IPO) later this year, Aramco in particular is under pressure to lighten a historically-egregious environmental footprint.