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  • Mobile enhanced oil recovery for America’s small oil producers


    Robert Zubrin, Thomas Henshaw, Jim Siebarth, Boris Nizamov, Colin Apke and Mark Berggren

    Many small producers cannot apply enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology, due to high capital costs resulting from site remoteness, limited pipeline access and long construction lead-times. To serve the small producer needs, Pioneer Astronautics is developing modular and portable biomass-based steam reforming technology, to create on-site CO2 for EOR and H2 for carbon-free electricity generation. The Pioneer Astronautics technology, developed with support from the Research Partnership for Secure Energy America (RPSEA) and Pioneer Energy, will allow small producers to have access to CO2 for enhanced oil recovery in a timely, scalable, locally field deployable, and cost effective manner. The technology will also produce clean electrical power, to offset producer capital and operating costs. To verify the concept, Pioneer Astronautics has designed, built and tested a modular pilot scale reformer unit, which delivers high yields of CO2 (> 35 vol. %) and H2 (> 50 vol. %) at total flow of 6,000 standard liters per minute (300,000) and 10 bar (150 psi). Using truck mobile technology demonstrated by Pioneer Energy, this high pressure gas can be readily separated into CO2 and hydrogen on site, enabling EOR operations at small producer sites nearly anywhere.

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