Landmark Study into Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS)

NERA is supporting a landmark study that could lead to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions whilst also improving Australia’s energy security. This study will evaluate the economic and technical feasibility of using CO2-EOR to enhance the recovery of oil from Australia’s onshore basins (including the Cooper and Surat basins) and understand the potential for CO2-EOR to contribute to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through CO2 storage.

CO2 enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR) has been used successfully around the world to increase the oil recovery following the decline in primary and/or secondary production. According to a CO2-EOR report by US Chamber of commerce [1], based on the current projects in the United States, CO2 -EOR delivers approximately as much production as primary recovery. Recoverable Australian liquid hydrocarbon using primary production is ca. 11 billion barrels according to Geoscience Australia [2].


In the Australian context, although we do not expect that CO2 EOR will be able to produce as much as primary production (due to higher primary recovery factor than in US), liquid hydrocarbon reserves would increase by a significant factor. But in the absence of an integrated study, it is difficult to understand the estimated value of the CO2-EOR and its potential in Australia to not only increase liquid hydrocarbon reserves but to also contribute to greenhouse gas abatement efforts.


CO2 is an economic commodity that is used in a range of industrial processes. As economies look toward a low carbon future, government and industry are investigating opportunities to use carbon through Carbon Capture Use and Storage. At scale, CO2 can contribute significantly to enhanced oil recovery providing additional revenue to established industrial processes.

The outcomes of this landmark study will not only benefit the Australian economy and its carbon management strategies but will also help industry to pursue CO2-EOR more readily and efficiently in Australia.

"CO2-EOR has the potential to significantly reduce CO2 emissions while improving Australia's energy security by boosting oil recovery in mature basins. All of the injected volume of CO2 will be permanently stored in underground reservoirs by the end of the operational life cycle."

— David Byers, CEO of CO2CRC.

Project Impact

This project will provide insight to industry and government on potential opportunities and economics around CO2-EOR at field level for Australian onshore basins (primarily for the Cooper and Surat basins); and its associated CO2 storage capacity. CO2-EOR has the potential to significantly reduce CO2 emissions whilst improving Australia's energy security by boosting oil recovery in many basins nationally.

The study will deliver a landmark report that will assist industry more readily and efficiently pursue CO2-EOR options in Australia. Long-term outcomes from the application of CO2-EOR include:

  • Advancing energy production and improving oil recovery of an additional 5% to 25% of the original oil in place from mature oil assets. The outcomes from the study will provide a better understanding of the additional potential recoverable oil from Australian onshore fields including those in the Cooper and Surat basins using CO2-EOR.
  • A means for the oil, gas and resources industries to make deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. CO2-EOR will require the use of CO2 captured from industrial and power plant emission sources. 100% of captured CO2 will be permanently stored in underground reservoirs by the end of the operational life cycle.
  • Contributing to the national future oil supply. Increasing the volume of technically recoverable domestic crude oil could help reduce Australia's trade deficit and enhance national energy security by reducing oil imports.
  • Applying CO2-EOR in mature oil reservoirs would help to extend the life of the assets and create jobs
  • The outcomes of this project will provide stakeholders with a high level understanding of the techno-economics of applying CO2-EOR on a commercial scale.

The project will also result in significant knowledge transfer to our Australian industry leaders. Utilising international organisations with decades of experience with similar studies will enable the transfer of knowledge domestically and build capacity within Australia to provide similar services into the future.

Project Partners


Project Timeframe

Start: April 2020

End: February 2022


Project Funding

Total Project Cost: $1,360,000

NERA: $635,000

Industry: $725,000

*Funding excludes GST


[1] source: Institute for 21st Century Energy - U.S Chamber of Commerce, "CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery," An Affiliate Of The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce, Washington, DC, 2012

[2] source: Geoscience Australia and BREE, 2014, Australian Energy Resource Assessment. 2nd Ed. Geoscience Australia, Canberra-Chapter 3-oil