A West Virginia University expert in coal and energy chaired a national study that was recently presented to the U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.

Richard Bajura, director of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at WVU and a National Coal Council member, chaired the council study, which was conducted in coordination with the National Petroleum Council. More than 60 of the U.S.’ leading energy experts contributed to the effort.

The National Coal Council, an advisory body chartered by the U.S. Secretary of Energy In 1984, presented the results of the comprehensive study about the role carbon dioxide from coal could play in increasing oil production.

“Harnessing Coal’s Carbon Content to Advance the Economy, Environment and Energy Security” concludes that widespread use of carbon dioxide capture and utilization technologies at coal-based power plants and coal-to-liquid-fuels plants could help increase domestic oil production by more than 3.5 million barrels a day for 40 or more years.

“It’s time to think of CO2 as a valuable commodity,” Bajura said. “The potential production of U.S. oil from coal-derived CO2 for enhanced oil recovery dwarfs other projected new domestic energy sources. We have a unique opportunity to more fully use domestic, low-cost coal to access more oil.”

Traditional oil production techniques yield only 20 to 40 percent of the oil in the ground, leaving behind most of the resource. By injecting a gas such as carbon dioxide into the well, 50 percent or more of the oil can be liberated.

Known as CO2 enhanced oil recovery, the process would allow the storage underground of an amount of carbon dioxide produced by the equivalent of 100 gigawatts of coal-fired power generation, or about one-quarter of the emissions produced by existing coal plants.

The National Coal Council reported that CO2 enhanced oil recovery technologies could create one million jobs and raise $60 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues.

To promote the use of coal-based CO2 enhanced oil recovery technologies, the study recommends that regulators recognize carbon dioxide capture and utilization-enhanced oil recovery as a valid carbon dioxide emissions control technology. The authors call for carbon dioxide injection to be regulated as Class II injection wells for the use of CO2 in oil and gas production instead of under Class VI well regulations which focus on purely long-term carbon storage.

A final report is expected to be delivered to Chu later this summer and will be available to the public at http://nationalcoalcouncil.org.


CONTACT: Trina Wafle, National Research Center for Coal and Energy
304-293-6038 or 304-216-1610, tkwafle@mail.wvu.edu

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