Bring on the billions: enhanced oil recovery discussed at forum - - Jackson, MS

Bring on the billions: enhanced oil recovery discussed at forum

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Mississippi's methods of tapping into resources below the surface are peaking the interest of energy experts.  

Governor Bryant says the goal should be energy independence. Experts say part of that is finding ways to up production. Mississippi is trying to position itself as a leader in the industry.

"CO2 is the biggest industry that nobody knows about," said One panelist at Friday's symposium.

Mississippi may be an exception to that statement. Forty-seven percent of the state's oil and gas production last year came from enhanced oil recovery.

"Mississippi is in many ways a roadmap for what many other states in this country aspire to do," explained Charles McConnell, executive director of the Energy and Environmental Initiative at Rice University. 

Mississippi Energy Institute president Patrick Sullivan says the state is in a unique position.

"There's only three places in the country where this takes place on any significant scale," described Sullivan. "There's a naturally occurring CO2 source here in Mississippi just like the other two areas. The other two areas are west Texas and in the Rocky Mountains."

Enhanced oil recovery uses CO2 to unlock oil from the old fields. That's one reason folks from across the country traveled in to hear about the technology being used.

"It has been a multi billion dollar business in Mississippi just in the last ten years," Sullivan said. "Today it is employing hundreds of Mississippians with the economic reach beyond that is in the thousands."

The hope is that new investors will put money into Mississippi because the infrastructure of pipelines and natural CO2 sources are already in place.

"It's happening," McConnell said. "It's not being talked about but in fact it's happening. And it's been going on for some time."

Even more jobs could be added as the industry grows. One example is the Kemper County plant. It will add to the CO2 reserves. They'll capture it during a coal gasification process. Then, ship that off for enhanced oil recovery.

"It's a natural pairing. I mean you have this CO2 that everything else being equal we don't necessarily want to put into the atmosphere," said Christopher Guith with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy. "And then you have one industry that wants to consume it."

Groups like the Sierra Club say there's too many risks involved with enhanced oil recovery. They say there have already been well blow-outs as a result of the process.

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