The use of captured carbon dioxide (CO2) has for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) appears to have a supporter in new Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
Moniz told a Congressional panel June 13 that EOR, using captured CO2, already accounts for about 300,000 barrels a day. Department of Energy research has also shown potential for the figure to grow to 3 million barrels per day.
The Moniz remarks came during a hearing on DOE’s proposed FY2014 budget by the House subcommittee on Energy and Power. The subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., is part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
After being confirmed with no opposition in the Senate, the June 13 appearance marked the first time Moniz had faced the GOP-controlled House panel as secretary of energy.
Moniz said he was encouraged by research on carbon capture and storage (CCS) and the subsequent commercial utilization of the capture CO2. Whitfield said he was happy to hear the energy secretary speak of CO2 as a commercial product.
At the same time, Moniz admitted that CCS technology is not ready for commercial prime time, and that “capture” is more difficult and expensive than the storage.
Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, said he was happy to see the carbon capture project planned at the NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG) Parish power plant in Texas clearing regulatory hurdles. At the same time, Olson said that another federal agency, EPA, is essentially mandating commercially unproven CCS for new coal plants.
Republicans and lawmakers from fossil fuel areas said that CCS needs more funding under DOE’s FY14 budget proposals and pointed to major budget increases for renewable energy.
The Office of Fossil Energy would get a 15% funding increase while Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is earmarked for an increase of almost 56%.
But it’s worth remembering that CCS projects had already received significant funding under the prior stimulus act, Moniz said. He added that developers of projects such as FutureGen 2 in Illinois “need to pick up the pace.” The FutureGen 2 project would use oxy-combustion to capture 90% of a coal plant’s CO2.
On April 10, 2013, President Obama proposed a budget of $28.4bn for DOE for FY 2014 (October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014). The budget requests an 8% increase, or $1.75bn, above the FY 2012 enacted level.