Capturing CO2 for EOR purposes is being widely adopted by national oil companies across the Middle East and North Africa region as fields mature and governments seek lower greenhouse gas emissions. 

The application of CO2 EOR provides two advantages for companies in the Middle East. It allows natural gas, which would otherwise be injected into oil fields for secondary recovery, to be freed up to meet domestic requirements, such as power generation and industrial use, or to limit costly LNG imports. It also helps limit emissions.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC) is pioneering in this domain and has plans to expand its use of carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) technology to meet a sixfold increase in the utilization of CO2 for EOR over the next 10 years. The volume of the greenhouse gas safely locked away underground will be equivalent to the CO2 emitted by more than one million motor vehicles each day.

In 2016 ADNOC started injecting CO2 into the Rumaitha and Bab fields to boost oil production and replace the use of hydrogen gas in the fields. As part of the project, ADNOC joined forces with Masdar, a renewable energy player that is owned by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co., to launch Al Reyadah, the first commercial-scale CCUS facility in the Middle East and North Africa. Al Reyadah is now fully owned by ADNOC and integrated into ADNOC Onshore.

Al Reyadah is exploring plans to bring CO2 emitted from industrial facilities, power plants and refineries to be deployed in EOR efforts at onshore fields in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Future plans by the company could divert about 13.3 million tons of CO2  from UAE-based industries toward oil and gas production, officials said.

“As we push forward plans to create value by maximizing oil recovery over the lifetime of our fields, we will increasingly utilize a range of enhanced oil recovery technologies, of which carbon capture, use and storage is not only good for the environment but also makes sound business sense,” said Abdulmunim Saif Al Kindy, director of ADNOC’s upstream directorate and chairman of Al Reyadah. “Replacing rich gas with CO2 injection into ADNOC’s maturing fields will allow the more productive use of valuable clean-burning natural gas, whether for power generation, desalination or as petrochemicals’ feedstock.

“This is a prime example of how clean technology can be integrated with traditional energy to optimize resources and reduce the environmental footprint,” Al Kindy said.

Al Reyadah currently captures 800,000 tonnes of CO2 from the Emirates Steel facilities in Abu Dhabi. After compression and dehydration at its plant in Mussafah, gas is transported for injection at ADNOC’s onshore Habshan oil field. The Al Reyadah project will explore the potential for capturing CO2 from Emirates Global Aluminum facilities from 2024 and from the Taweelah power facilities from 2030 onward, the minister said.

Arafat Al Yafei, chief executive at Al Reyadah, said about 5 million tons of CO2 could be captured from refineries in the UAE. “CCUS is a prime example of how state-of-the-art technology can be integrated with traditional energy to create efficiencies and optimize resources. Our objective is not only to satisfy ADNOC’s demand for CO₂ in support of its enhanced oil recovery plans but also to liberate valuable natural gas to meet rising demand,” Al Yafei said.

As part of its drives to diversify recovery techniques, ADNOC signed an agreement with the Center of Integrated Petroleum Research (CIPR) at Bergen University in Norway to conduct applied research into EOR techniques that could extend the life of ADNOC’s oil reservoirs. The agreement is part of ADNOC’s strategic approach to ensuring long-term, sustainable and profitable oil production and its aspiration to recover up to 70% of the oil in place at the end of a field’s life.

So far, ADNOC produces only about 7% of its total production through various EOR methods, which shows the strength of the company’s fields. Besides CO2 injection at the Rumaitha and Bab onshore fields, most of ADNOC’s EOR-enabled production is based on rich miscible gas injection, which is deployed at several reservoirs across the company’s onshore fields.

ADNOC’s long-term EOR deployment plan is to increase CO2-based EOR projects and other EOR schemes such as novel hybrid chemical concepts.