In the August 1920 edition of Oil and Gas News, an excited reporter wrote about a region that “is attracting much attention due to the good [oil] wells that are being brought in.” Oil had been discovered on the Bertha Hickman farm in Oklahoma, a discovery that started the industrial music of the North Burbank Oil Field.
Ninety-three years and 319 million barrels of oil later, energy producers in the region are using an “enhanced oil recovery” technology that promises to extract enormous amounts of oil that are otherwise unreachable.
The July 1, 2013 edition of Oil and Gas Journal reports that Chaparral Energy has begun injecting carbon dioxide through “injection wells”—with the expectation of producing an additional eighty-eight million barrels of oil.
This ingenious method of oil extraction uses carbon dioxide, which in this case is collected from a fertilizer manufacturing plant in Coffeyville, Kansas. (Prior to this development, the plant vented this carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as waste.) Sixty million cubic feet per day of this exhaust gas is now collected and pumped by a 23,500 horsepower compressor station, through sixty-eight miles of eight inch diameter pipe, to Oklahoma’s historic oilfield. Once there, it is injected deep into the ground where it pushes crude oil through the rock and into production wells, which transport the oil to the surface.
The company estimates that this technology will extend the producing life of the field by thirty years!
The independent and entrepreneurial spirit that drove the discoverers of 1920 exists today and can be seen in these heroic innovators who are pushing the boundaries of the science and technology of oil production.
- Freedom and Fracking Fuel Investment in Texas
- Energy at the Speed of Thought: The Original Alternative Energy Market
Creative Commons Image: Jonathan Wheeler