Jackson Dome

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.
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Jackson Dome is a natural carbon source field located in Rankin County and Madison County, Mississippi, operated primarily by Denbury and the company's largest current source of carbon dioxide for industrial purposes.[1]

Photo of the Jackson Dome in Mississippi. Credit: Southern States Energy Board.

Sitting about 25 miles northeast of Jackson, Mississippi, it is one of the largest natural CO2 fields in the United States and the largest and only one east of the Mississippi River. It is one of the five major carbon fields in the U.S., the country which is the top producer of natural CO2 in the world.

Tectonically an ancient volcano site called the Jackson Volcano, drilling for carbon in the field facilitates CO2 enhanced oil recovery (CO2 EOR) in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Denbury acquired the Jackson Dome from Airgas in 2001 for $42 million.[2] Drilling at the field began in 1977 after discovery efforts began in the early-1970's, initially by Shell,[3] and CO2 initially got to oil fields via trucks in the pre-pipeline era.[4]

A 98% pure CO2 basin,[5] Denbury used 78% of the CO2 it produced from the Jackson Dome in 2020 for CO2 EOR, with the rest sent to third-party industrial users.[6] The carbon is sent via pipelines to 14 different oil fields, in which the produced carbon is injected under the ground to free up an additional 8-20% of oil in legacy oil fields, or residual oil zones (ROZs). CO2 EOR is also sometimes called "carbon flooding" or "tertiary recovery."[7] Denbury is both the owner of all of those pipelines and the CO2 EOR fields.[8][9]

Natural carbon dioxide is currently the source of over 80% of the CO2 for CO2 EOR in the United States[10]and CO2 EOR currently is the final carbon sink for nine of the ten biggest U.S.-based Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects currently commercially operational.[11]

Traditionally known as CCS, CO2 EOR is a central component of a rebranding effort which began in 2012 known as CCUS, or carbon capture utilization and storage. The "U" in CCUS, in this case, is using carbon to drill for more oil.[12]The vast majority of the rest of the CO2 used to do CO2 EOR comes from natural gas plants in Wyoming and Texas in which CO2 is produced as a by-product.[13] According to a 2014 U.S. Department of Energy study, 97% of the industrial marketed carbon is used for CO2 EOR.[14]

According to a 2014 U.S. Department of Energy study, 97% of the industrial marketed carbon is used for CO2 EOR.[15]

A 2020 academic study concluded that CO2 enhanced oil recovery using CO2 source fields like the Jackson Dome, McElmo Dome, Bravo Dome, Sheep Mountain, and Doe Canyon “cannot contribute to reductions in anthropogenic CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.”[16] A study the year before, published by the U.S. Department of Energy echoed that conclusion, writing that CO2 production for CO2 EOR "does not contribute towards a net reduction in CO2 emissions to the atmosphere."[17] Multiple studies have also called into question the climate benefits of CO2 EOR production even with anthropogenic carbon, pointing to the process as a net-positive greenhouse gas emitting process.[18]

Location

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Field Details

  • Start Year: 1977[19]
  • Operator: Denbury
  • Controller: Denbury
  • Location: Rankin County and Madison County, Mississippi, United States
  • Proved reserves: 4.6 Trillion Cubic Feet[20] 28 active wells.
  • Production: 1.1 TCF in 2020, 1.98 TCF in 2019, 1.82 TCF in 2018, 1.83 TCF in 2017, 1.76 TCF in 2016, 1.1 TCF in 2015[21]
  • Status: Operating
  • Active Production Wells: 28
2020 production at the Jackson Dome; Chart Credit: Mississippi Oil and Gas Board

Comparison to Oil, Gas Drilling

An industry engineer told the outlet Capital & Main that CO2 drilling is akin to drilling for oil and gas, at its core.

“It’s really the same tools, the same equipment, the same calculation going on. It’s just using different types of numbers,” the engineer stated. “But you find a CO2 source field, which obviously can be several thousand feet underground, and you move a drilling rig in and you drill for it.”[22]

History/Background

Exploratory drilling began at the Jackson Dome in the early-1950's and commercial leasing began in 1973. Shell viewed the CO2 fields of Colorado (McElmo Dome, Sheep Mountain and Doe Canyon) and New Mexico (Bravo Dome), and the CO2 EOR production facilitated drilling carbon from those fields at Texas' Permian Basin, as a parallel.

Carbon was found in Mississippi by accident, as a by-product of prospecting for oil. The Continental Oil Company (predecessor to ConocoPhillips) first found CO2 in the state in 1951, back when the industry still called it "dry ice," and at the time its central purpose was as a coolant.[23] Continental's accidental find was 93% pure CO2.[24]

In 1954, Carter Oil Co. also found carbon while wildcatting for oil. The local newspaper described the 68% pure discovered CO2 as "useless" at the time.[25] Once again in searching for oil in 1967, Chevron stumbled across natural CO2 in Rankin County, Mississippi, doing so by accident. A year later, the company General Crude Oil Co. announced an additional accidental discovery.[26]

Shell was the first company to seek a permit to do CO2 EOR in Mississippi, applying for one in 1973 at the Little Creek Oil Field.[27] Commercial production of the CO2 began in 1977 and CO2 EOR using the Jackson Dome's carbon began in 1985 at the Little Creek Field.[28][29] Before the pipeline buildout began at the Jackson Dome, CO2 moved to CO2 EOR fields via rail.[30]

Map of the Jackson Dome in Mississippi. Credit: U.S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory

"Development of enhanced oil recovery techniques using (carbon dioxide) provides a major boost for our efforts to get more oil out of those oil fields," an executive for Shell told The Clarion-Ledger in 1985 of its CO2 EOR efforts using carbon drilled from the Jackson Dome. "It allows us to produce oil that cannot be recovered economically with any other known technology."[31]

Shell was the dominant CO2 producer in the field during the first quarter century of the Jackson Dome's production era, but with oil prices dropping, the company shed its Jackson Dome assets and sold the field to Airgas in 1997. Denbury then purchased Airgas' Jackson Dome assets in 2001, a $42 million acquisition.[32]

Production

According to its 2020 annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Denbury has 910.1 BCF (billion cubic feet) in probable reserves of CO2 at the Jackson Dome. In 2020, the company produced 4.6 million cubic feet (MCF) of CO2.[33] Production rates have fallen consistently at the field over the past decade.

Historic production levels at the Jackson Dome. Image Credit: Mississippi Oil and Gas Board

No Accounting for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Natural CO2 Source Fields disclose their production levels under Subpart PP of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule, which is a self-reporting mechanism. As a CO2 producer, the company only must report its downstrema CO2 injection levels and not its emissions under the statute. The Jackson Dome injected 6.67 million metric tons of CO2 via EOR in 2019, according to EPA data.[34][35][36]

The operative language of Subpart PP of the Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting statute reads, "The owner or operator of a CO2 production well facility must maintain quarterly records of the mass flow or volumetric flow of the extracted or transferred CO2 stream and concentration and density if volumetric flow meters are used."[37] CO2 enhanced oil recovery wells, a key component of Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage, also must report emissions generated via the production activity under the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule under Subpart UU of the Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting statute."[38]

All of Denbury's wells report zero emissions, despite the fact that a 2015 study concluded that the researchers failed "to account for 22 to 96 percent of the CO2 they injected after a short period" at Denbury's Cranfield CO2 enhanced oil recovery field, according to a briefing published by the group Food & Water Watch.[39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51]

CO2 EOR Climate Impacts

Multiple studies have pointed to the climate change impacts of beefing up CO2 enhanced oil recovery. They come with the backdrop of a 2019 U.S. Department of Energy report concluding that there has been "no official mechanism for reporting leaks" of CO2 for most of the history of CO2 EOR production. "In addition, little information is available on project post-closure status and CO2 behavior in the subsurface post-injection," the report continues.[52]

A 2019 study published in the journal Applied Energy concludes that "from [a] thermodynamics point of view, CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR) with CCS option is not sustainable, i.e., during the life cycle of the process more energy is consumed than the energy produced from oil."[53]

A decade earlier, another study came to the same conclusion: CO2 EOR is a carbon-positive emissions drilling process. That paper, published by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, surmised that “without displacement of a carbon intensive energy source, CO2-EOR systems will result in net carbon emissions.”

"We calculated that between 3.7 and 4.7 metric tons of CO2 are emitted for every metric ton of CO2 injected. The fields currently inject and sequester less than 0.2 metric tons of CO2 per bbl of oil produced," the researchers further detailed. "In order to entirely offset system emissions, e.g., making the net CO2 emissions zero, 0.62 metric tons of CO2 would need to be injected and permanently sequestered for every bbl of oil produced. The only way to sequester this amount of CO2 would be to operate a sequestration project concurrently with the CO2-EOR project."[54]

In 2020, researchers June Sekera and Andreas Lichtenberger came to similar summations in doing a survey of over 200 studies done on Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage to date with regards to greenhouse gas emissions in their paper titled, "Assessing Carbon Capture: Public Policy, Science, and Societal Need: A Review of the Literature on Industrial Carbon Removal."

"We found that papers that deem CCS-EOR to be a climate mitigation technique either fail to account for all emissions (i.e., they perform only a partial life cycle analysis) and/or they make an assumption that CCS-EOR-produced oil 'displaces' conventionally produced fossil fuel energy," they wrote, surmising instead that "data show that the process actually results in net emissions."[55]

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data further shows that at the CO2 treatment facilities servicing some of the major CO2 EOR fields at Texas' Permian Basin, the facilities emit high levels of carbon dioxide and other copollutants into the atmosphere.

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One of them, the SACROC CO2 treatment facility servicing the SACROC CO2 EOR field -- operated by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners -- emitted 425,971.5 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2019.[56] That amounts to 92,640 passenger vehicles driven for a year and 77,375 homes' electricity use for one year, according to the EPA's Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.[57] The SACROC facility also emits high levels of PM 10, VOCs, ammonia, PM 2.5, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, methane, NOx, and sulfur dioxide, according to EPA pollution data.[58]

The Denver Unit and Wasson CO2 removal plans, both of which service the Denver Unit CO2 EOR field, also emitted a total of 153,035.7 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2019. [59][60] That equates to 33,282 passenger vehicles driven for one year and 27,798 homes' electricity use for one year.[61]

Occidental's Denver City CO2 removal plant in Denver City, Texas. Credit: Google Maps.

The Denver Unit CO2 removal plant also emits high levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, as well as PM 2.5 and PM 10, according to the EPA Air Pollutant Report for the facility.[62] The separation facility is located within three miles of over 5,100 people, 66% of whom are people of color and over 75% of whom have a family income of below $75,000 per year. Only just above 15% of the population in that 3-mile radius has a college degree and 63% of the population in that radius has a Latinx ethnic origin.[63][64]

Denver City CO2 removal plant next to oil rigs. Photo Credit: Google Maps

According to Texas Center on Environmental Quality data, the Wasson CO2 Removal Plant owned by Occidental also emitted 19,312 pounds of carbon monoxide via designated illegal air pollution incidents into the atmosphere between January 1, 2020 and February 24, 2021. The facility also emitted over 3,400 pounds of H2S; over 15,700 pounds of non-methane, non-ethane natural gas; over 2,250 pounds of oxides of nitrogen; and over 314,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide[65]

Between January 2020 and March 14, 2021, Occidental's Anton CO2 dehydration plant in Shallowater, Texas had 11,800 pounds of carbon monoxide incidents, 637 pounds of H2S; over 9,200 pounds of non-methane, non-ethane natural gas; and over 56,300 pounds of SO2, and 1,672 pounds of NOx.[66]

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And between June 2020 through January 2021, the company's Denver Unit CO2 Recovery Plant had incident events which emitted over 40,400 pounds of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere, more than 65 pounds of H2S, over 23,200 pounds of non-methane/non-ethane natural gas, over 5,000 pounds of NOx, and over 6,000 pounds of SO2.[67]

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Three of the company's CO2 processing plants sit within the top ten most polluting facilities in Texas when ranked by SO2 emissions, according to a 2020 report by the group Environment Texas, when ranked by illegal air pollution events. They include the West Seminole San Andres Unit CO2 facilities, the Seminole Gas Processing Plant, and the Willard CO2 Separation Plant. But when measuring all co-pollutants, five of the top six polluters in the TCEQ's Region 2 (Lubbock) are CO2 separation/removal/recovery plants.[68]

Top 10 polluters for TCEQ Region 2. Credit: Environment Texas
Willard CO2 Plant in Denver City, Texas. Credit: Google Maps

The main Permian-area gas plants which create carbon as a by-product, thusly used for CO2 EOR production, are also highly polluting, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data.

The Pikes Peak Gas Plant -- located in Fort Stockton, Texas and operated by Occidental -- is in the 87.8 percentile for PM 2.5 emitted into the atmosphere, 92.7 percentile for ozone, 86.1 for other air toxics, and on the 83.9 percentile for respiratory hazard index.[69] The plant also emits high levels of benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, carbon monoxide, ethylbenzene, xylene, VOCs, hexane and climate change-causing CO2 into the atmosphere, according to other EPA data.[70]

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The Terrell Gas Plant in Sheffield, Texas shows similar attributes, sitting in the 68.9 percentile for PM 2.5, 70.3 for ozone, 67.8 for air toxics cancer risk, and 66.7 for respiratory hazard index.[71] Like Pikes Peak, the plant is operated by Occidental. The facility also emits high levels of VOCs, formaldehyde, CO2, methane, toluene, acetaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, PM 2.5, acrolein, SO2, hexane, methanol, and NOx into the atmosphere.[72] Greenhouse gas emissions data from the EPA shows that the facility emitted 50,011 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2019. [73]

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Beyond Texas, at Denbury's Bogue Chitto, Mississippi's CO2 EOR site, the company emits high levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx), hexane, carbon monoxide, VOCs, benzene, formaldehyde, and PM 2.5, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data.[74]

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Pipeline Connections

Denbury has eight pipelines connected to the Jackson Dome. They include the 183-mile Northeast Jackson Dome Pipeline,[75] the Free State Pipeline (90 miles), Delta Pipeline (110 miles), Green Pipeline Texas (120 miles), and Green Pipeline Louisiana (200 miles), Delhi Pipeline (81 miles),[76] Free State Pipeline (90 miles), and the West Gwinville Pipeline.[77][78]

CO2 EOR Field Connections

The CO2 produced at the Jackson Dome is sent via pipelines to the Delhi Field east of Monroe, Louisiana; the Hastings Field in Alvin, Texas; the Heidelberg Field in Jasper County, Mississippi; the Oyster Bayou Field in Chambers County, Texas; the Tinsley Field in Yazoo County, Mississippi; the West Yellow Creek and Eucutta Fields in Wayne County, Mississippi; the Little Creek, Mallalieu, and Brookhaven Fields in Lincoln County, Mississippi; the Cranfield Field in Natchez, Mississippi; Martinville Oil Field in Simpson County, Mississippi; McComb Oil Field in Pike County, Mississippi; and the Soso Oil Field in Jasper County, Mississippi.

Of those fields, the Hastings Field is the most prolific, producing 4,755 barrels of oil per day from CO2 EOR, or about 17.8% of the total oil produced in the Gulf region for the company in 2020.[79]

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Hastings Oil Field in Alvin, Texas[80]

2020 Pipeline Explosions

In February 2020, the 24-inch Delhi Pipeline—which sends CO2 from the Jackson Dome to the Hastings Field in Alvin, Texas—exploded in Yazoo County, Mississippi. Documents obtained via open records request show the CO2 plume stretched for between 30-40 kilometers and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency revealed the plume stretched all the way northwest beyond Holly Bluff, Mississippi.[81]

Aftermath of Feb. 2020 CO2 pipeline explosion in Yazoo County, MS. Credit: Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
Plume shown from NOAA program showing February 22 CO2 pipeline rupture in Yazoo County, MS from Denbury's Delhi Pipeline.

An on-scene investigator described a “green fog” of both hydrogen sulfide and CO2 leaking into the atmosphere across the highway from the ruptured pipeline at the scene of the incident. Though no one died, 46 people were hospitalized and 300 were evacuated from their homes.[82] Three men passed out in their cars at the scene of the pipeline rupture, knocked unconscious.[83]

A sheriff’s investigator stated that those rescued during the incident were acting “like zombies” and some were “foaming at the mouth.” The sheriff deputy called to the scene also had to be hospitalized.[84] Documents obtained via open records request show over 31,000 barrels of CO2 leaked into the atmosphere.[85]

An incident report obtained via Mississippi Public Records Act from the Yazoo County Sheriff's Department shows that the investigator wrote that he was "having difficulty breathing, as though I'd just run a mile and was out of breath," in explaining his on-scene response. That investigator further wrote that some people he approached on-scene seemed "confused" and did not "understand what I was saying" when he spoke to them. In that state, the investigator said he had to "forcefully" get them into his squad car.[86]

The class-action plaintiffs' law firm Morgan & Morgan is representing victims of the pipeline blowout, saying in a February statement, "Our hope is to uncover all the facts that led to this incident and hold those responsible accountable for their actions or omissions."[87] In October 2020, near the same area in Yazoo County, the same pipeline had another CO2 leak. It led officials to temporarily shut down State Highway 3.[88]

Records obtained via the Mississippi Public Records Act show that this pipeline blowout and leak was even bigger in size: just under 42,000 barrels of CO2 escaped from the pipeline.[89]

Other records obtained show the Chief Operating Officer of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Matthew Hewings, critiquing Denbury. He wrote, "I can't help but wonder if Denbury is being entirely forthcoming in their [National Response Center] reporting, which makes getting accurate information from the field problematic. At some point, H2S was brought into the equation - then it was never spoken of again. I'm not saying it is cover up, but it would be awfully convenient for Denbury .. legally and financially ... if H2S was left out of the discussion."

According to a 2014 report by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory, the Jackson Dome CO2 stream consists of 5% H2S, the highest concentration for any the Natural CO2 Source Fields.[90]

In another email, Hewings wrote "It is curious that the H2S or anything other than CO2 is not annotated below, especially since the locals reported a green gas and noxious odor."

"[David] Battaly (Emergency Manager at the agency) reported an orange haze like a sand storm. CO2 is colorless and odorless at low concentrations, yet smells acidic at high concentrations," Hewings continued. "It sure seems as if something other than just CO2 was present. Additionally, the extreme symptoms reported by the victims are consistent with exposure to HZS. Something doesn't add up ..."[91]

A company pipeline also ruptured in 2012 at the Hastings Oil Field in Brazoria County, with no one suffering injuries and no reported spillage nor environmental damage relayed to the Houston Chronicle.[92]

2007 CO2 EOR Well Blowouts

In 2007 in Amite County at a Denbury-operated CO2 EOR well, a blowout led to the evacuation of three nearby homes. Residents in the area said it sounded like "a loud roaring noise" akin to "when an airplane flies over real low," even a mile and a half from the blowout site.[93][94]

Three days after the blowout started, it was "still spewing so much carbon dioxide, saltwater and oil that officials...closed a state highway and imposed a five-mile no-fly zone indefinitely," a local newspaper reported, also noting detectable levels of benzene in the area surrounding the well.[95]

In an editorial for the Enterprise-Journal, one of the state's biggest local newspapers, the editorial board wrote "If it happened...in Amite County, it certainly can happen anyplace where there's drilling activity. The recovery of oil and natural gas from thousands of feet below the surface—two or three miles below, and sometimes deeper—is an amazing technological achievement that we tend to take for granted. But it is dangerous work, and there is plenty of risk involved." The editorial goes on to ask questions about what the long-term impacts are of plugged CO2 EOR wells, calling on the state and Denbury to "be completely forthcoming about exactly what happened" in the incident.[96]

Half a year earlier in Lincoln County, Mississippi, a CO2 EOR well leaked also owned by Denbury leaked. It led to the evacuation of several homes. [97]

Legal, Regulatory Issues

James Wagoner and JWW Oil and Gas Exploration argued in the federal case Waggoner v. Denbury Onshore, L.L.C. that Denbury’s vertically integrated business model amounted to a monopoly. In 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that no monopoly existed, even if the arrangement created an “alleged injury of decreased royalty payments due to a conspiracy among oil companies.”[98]

Prior to that ruling, a legislative effort in the Mississippi Legislature also failed for two consecutive sessions in 2014 and 2015. The bills would have mandated common carrier status for Denbury's CO2 pipelines in the state which utilize eminent domain as part of their land use authority.[99][100]

The company also pays no severance tax in drilling for CO2 at the Jackson Dome and a legislative effort attempted to change that to a rate of 6%, but failed.[101] The author of the bill, Rep. Gary Staples, (R-Laurel), said not having a severance tax on CO2 drilling costs the state $20 million in tax revenue per year.[102]

“Denbury Resources is sending 500 million cubic feet of CO2 a day to Texas, and we’re not making a dime on it,” Staples told a local publication at the time. “The people in this state are not for giving away our natural resources, and they need to be aware that it’s happening.”[103]

Denbury fought against the measure, with a lobbyist for the company stating, "I contend the state is getting something from what we do in the state of Mississippi, regardless of where the carbon dioxide goes. We're bringing so much more to the table than that, that it's almost laughable to be sitting here talking about this." The tax would've yielded $20 million in tax dollars per year to the state.[104]

In Texas, Denbury also sat at the center of a landmark common carrier doctrine Supreme Court ruling on the issue of the use of eminent domain legal doctrine as it relates to common carrier status for its Green Pipeline, which connects to the Jackson Dome. The Court ruled in 2017 that Denbury could utilize the legal authority to condemn privately-held land in building out the CO2 pipeline.

"All that is required is a reasonable probability that the pipeline will, at some point after construction, serve the public by transporting a product for one or more customers who will either retain ownership or sell it to parties other than the carrier," explained an attorney of the ruling in the case Denbury Green Pipeline Texas LLC v. Texas Rice Land Partners Ltd.[105] A 'reasonable probability' is 'more likely than not.'"[106]

Regulatory Enforcement Actions

According to a 2019 lawsuit brought jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Denbury was responsible for 25 oil spills between 2008 and 2014, including spilling "5,000 barrels of oil and water mixture in the Tinsley field in central Mississippi’s Yazoo County after a pipe shifted because of ground settlement and erosion," the Associated Press reported.[107]

The Tinsley Field is one of Denbury's CO2 EOR fields connected to the Jackson Dome.[108] The agencies brought the lawsuit concurrently with a consent decree, with Denbury paying out $3.5 million in fines to both the EPA and MDEQ.[109][110]

Denbury also paid a $662,500 fine to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality in 2013 for a 2011 CO2 EOR well blowout which also occurred in Yazoo County. It was the largest fine assessed by the agency for the past decade preceding it.

In August 2011, "So much carbon dioxide came out [of the CO2 EOR well] that it settled in some hollows, suffocating deer and other animals, Mississippi officials said," AP further reported. "The company ultimately drilled a new well to plug the old one, and removed 27,000 tons of drilling mud and contaminated soil and 32,000 barrels of liquids from the site."

As that fine was assessed, the company was simultaneously combatting another CO2 release at its Dehli CO2 EOR field which had happened almost a month and a half prior to the assessment of the fine. The Associated Press reported that "carbon dioxide and drilling fluids broke through the ground's surface" at the Delhi site.

At the Delhi incident, AP also reported that "Concentrations of carbon dioxide were so high initially that [a Louisiana Department of Natural Resources spokesman] said responders wore breathing apparatus to keep from suffocating."[111]

Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership

Denbury participated in the U.S. Department of Energy's Southeast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership, which monitored Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage and CO2 enhanced oil recovery as it pertains to the effectiveness of the CO2 injection process at the Cranfield oil field in Natchez, Mississippi. The science experiment did not measure CO2 emissions from the Jackson Dome, though, even though the CO2 originated from the field.[112][113]

According to an April 2020 story published by the outlet Capital & Main, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency "has not brought any enforcement actions against any companies in [the] carbon drilling space."[114]

Sequestering vs. Recycling

During the CO2 EOR process, CO2 is not merely stored underground immediately. Instead, it is recycled as part of what the Global CCS Institute describes as a "closed loop," which "reduces the need to purchase additional CO2."[115]

A closed-loop CO2 EOR system, exhibited in a 2013 NETL report.

A 1976 study commissioned by the Federal Energy Administration pointed out that, from the onset, CO2 EOR would not be economically feasible for the oil industry without recycling technology. The study explained the industry will necessitate "major improvements in...recycling...before the full potential of this recovery tech­nique can be realized."[116]

As early as 1981, a petroleum engineering coordinator for Shell told colleagues at the Society for Petroleum Engineers that CO2 for CO2 enhanced oil recovery should be recycled because it "is a very valuable commodity" and "it does involve large amounts for oil recovery."[117]

In 1991, a production supervisor at Shell at the Jackson Dome further explained, "We're recycling everything we produce. Eventually the flood will be mature enough that all we'll be doing is recycling. We won't have to bring any more down from Jackson Dome."[118]

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue also explained the CO2 EOR process as one centering around recycling in a legal ruling pertaining to disputes over royalty payments at the Bravo Dome. "At the surface, the CO2 is separated from the oil," explains the filing. "The oil is sold and the CO2 reused again in the EOR reservoir. This means the CO2 is part of a continual process and is not sold."[119]

In a 2018 presentation, Denbury further concluded that by 15 years into a CO2 EOR operation, 20% of its CO2 will be recycled. By 20 years, that number goes up to 50%. By 25 years, that number goes up to 70% and by 30 years, that number goes up to 80% recycled.[120]

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory put it more simply in a 2019 paper on CO2 EOR, writing, "the objective of CO2 EOR operations is not to store CO2, but to maximize oil production. However, some of the injected CO2 ultimately does get stored in the reservoir as part of the process.[121]

“The need for the field to purchase new CO2 is gradually reduced over time,” further explains a 2019 paper published by the U.S. Department of Energy. “As a result, a greater percentage of the CO2 injected is from production, separation, and recycling versus newly-purchased CO2.” That paper further explained that “approximately half has been recovered and recycled” and more broadly “CO2 EOR operators try to maximize oil and gas production and minimize the amount of CO2 left in the reservoir.”[122]

A 2010 paper by the National Energy Technology Laboratory also explains the exact money saved by doing the recycling process, writing that "Because of the cost of naturally sourced CO2—roughly $10-15 per metric ton—a CO2 flood operator seeks to recycle as much as possible to minimize future purchases of the gas."[123]

Articles and Resources

Related GEM.wiki articles

References

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