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Bismarck, ND -
It could be the biggest thing in Bowman County since oil was struck in 1958.
A company with expertise in secondary oil recovery has taken major steps to bring technology to the far southwest corner of North Dakota to give an old oil field new life.
According to North Dakota Oil and Gas officials, Denbury Resources, plans to bring Carbon Dioxide to the oil field in southwest North Dakota.
"Sometime within the next decade CO2 will arrive in Cedar Hills and it's badly needed. The water field is mature now and in decline. It's a fantastic opportunity for CO2 Flooding. It's coming, it's just a matter of time," says Director of Mineral Resources Lynn Helms.
Helms says the CO2 would be coming out of Wyoming, piped into Montana and extended east to Bowman County.
The enhanced recovery involves injecting CO2 gas underground to help bring trapped oil to the surface. It increases the overall output of wells and adds years to the life on an oil field...
Helms says, "Carbon Dioxide adds pressure to the reservoir but even more important than that when it touches oil if forms a solvent like material and increases recovery."
Helms says Denbury's plans could mean a $2 Billion investment and 200 wells to this area.
"It will bring a lot of drilling rigs in because there will be a lot of increased density drilling needed. A lot of building new tank batteries, laying new pipelines," says Helms.
Helms and locals like what the secondary recovery method could mean for production in Bowman County, which is now the number six top producing county.
Helms says, "we would see, I think a return to those peak production rates we saw in early 2000's when the field went under water flood. We could actually get half of the oil out of that reservoir."
When this happens, it will mark a first.
Never before has CO2 been used to enhance oil recovery in North Dakota.
On another note...
Carbon Dioxide is currently being piped from North Dakota to Saskatchewan to enhance oil recovery efforts there.
CO2 is a co-product developed at Dakota Gasification's Synfuels plant near Beulah.
The plant's primary function is to produce natural gas, however it also supplies carbon dioxide to the largest carbon capture and storage project in the world in Saskatchewan.
Basin Electric Spokesperson, Mary Miller says, "It's been anticipated that the enhanced oil recovery can lengthen the life of an oil field by 25 years. So it's certainly a benefit for the oil companies in terms of continuing to produce oil. It certainty helps to have that appetite for Co2."
Miller says there is an opportunity for the plant to produce more CO2 and supply it domestically if there is demand for the product.
" We have a 205 mile pipeline and we have several taps along the way, should the appetite develop and the need arise we have that ability," says Miller.
The first CO2 was shipped from DGC to Canada in 2000, since then 25 million metric tons of CO2 has been sent to the oil fields in Canada.