Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) and Shell EP International Limited ("Shell") signed an agreement on a comprehensive strategic alliance to cooperate in the feasibility study and promotion of CO2 capture from industrial plants linked to EOR (Enhanced Oil Recovery) projects in the Middle East Region with the aim to provide long-term sustainable CO2 supply to suitable oil fields.
The EOR projects to be promoted by the two partners will include utilization of MHI's proprietary flue-gas CO2 recovery technology. The aim is to enhance the level of oil recovery by CO2 injection into the oil reservoir. The CO2 to be injected will be captured and recovered from the flue gas emitted by power generation plants and/or other plant facilities, and transported to the CO2 injection site.
As CO2-EOR will ultimately sequestrate CO2 in the underground oil reservoir, the technology will not only boost oil production but also significantly contribute to reduction of global warming gases.
MHI's CO2 recovery technology, officially known as the "KM-CDR Process" (Kansai-Mitsubishi proprietary Carbon Dioxide Recovery Process), was jointly developed with Kansai Electric Power Company, Inc. It uses a chemical process to separate and absorb CO2 using KS-1 proprietary solvent, and offers the advantages of low energy consumption and low degradation of the solvent. In addition to a plant in Japan, a CO2 recovery plant using the KM-CDR Process is already in operation for 6 years at a urea fertilizer plant in Malaysia, where it is contributing to increased production. Two more KM-CDR Process CO2 recovery plants are currently under construction at fertilizer plants in India.
In the case of oil production, standard oil recovery methods are utilization of the oil reservoir's pressure (primary recovery) and maintaining the reservoir's pressure by injecting water or gas (secondary recovery). However, with these methods a large proportion of the original oil in place often remains unrecoverable from the reservoir. CO2-EOR is a tertiary recovery method that, in certain reservoirs, greatly enhances oil recovery rates by creating an environment in which CO2 and oil are miscible under supercritical pressure within the reservoir.
Due to its higher cost compared with the primary and secondary methods, until now CO2 recovery from flue gases and use it for CO2-EOR has remained at the experimental level, with applications limited to EOR in the U.S. utilizing naturally occurring CO2 from CO2 gas field and in Canada using off-gas from a coal gasification plant. But against the backdrop of the recent surge in oil prices, interest in EOR has been rising sharply. Based on the newly signed accord, MHI and Shell will now take the lead in this field through their full-fledged study and promotion of CO2-EOR.
This strategic alliance has been reached based on acclaim of MHI's CO2 separation/recovery technologies by Shell and other companies of the Shell Group, some of which have been engaged in the oil industry, in the Middle East, for more than a century. On the occasion of the newly formed alliance, MHI aims not only to execute the accord with utmost effort but also to further refine its related technologies and expand its CO2 recovery business.