CO2 capturing facility sending it to Texas to be used to recover oil

Fuel Fix:
A wave of federally-funded carbon dioxide is headed to Texas oil fields.

The Obama administration is the principal investor in a $3.8 billion methanol plant in Lake Charles, La. that will separate carbon dioxide out of its smokestack and put it in a pipeline bound for Texas where it will be used to speed up oil production.

Located 140 miles east of Houston, the plant will be the first methanol facility in the world to use carbon capture and the first in the United States to make methanol out of petcoke, a dirty byproduct of oil refining, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

With a U.S. government guaranteed loan that could reach up to $2 billion, the project would also mark the first time the Department of Energy has loaned money to a fossil fuel project under its advanced energy program – given to technologies deemed promising but unable to secure investors in the private sector. Past loans have gone to projects like the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia and the now infamous solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy in 2011.

“On the fossil, there have been various inquiries over the years, but this is the first project that came in and really worked all the way through,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “I’m pleased we reached this stage on a big fossil project that is quite ambitious and quite novel.”
... the hope at the Energy Department is the Lake Charles project will be able to defray those high costs by selling carbon for use in enhanced oil recovery operations, in which drillers pump carbon dioxide underground into oil fields nearing the end of their lifespan.

The Department of Energy has already jump started carbon capture through grants to companies including NRG Energy, which is finishing up its Petra Nova project at the W.A. Parish coal plant south of Houston.
This is a surprisingly realistic approach to dealing with a by-product of the petrochemical business.  I have noted before that the alternative energy crowd has no replacement for the vital petrochemical operations that makes the feedstock for several industries whose products are used in everyday life.  Making the process cost effective will be an interesting challenge.


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