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 , 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 .
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."
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:
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.
Current Status: Contract has been signed and the project has commenced
Start: April 2020
End: October 2021
Total Project Cost: $1,360,000
*Funding excludes GST
 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
 source: Geoscience Australia and BREE, 2014, Australian Energy Resource Assessment. 2nd Ed. Geoscience Australia, Canberra-Chapter 3-oil