Abu Dhabi National Company (Adnoc) is looking into injecting carbon dioxide into its offshore fields to boost oil recovery and free up gas reserves, according to an official from its main offshore subsidiary.

Senior vice-president of development of Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company (Adma-Opco) Ali al-Muhairy told Bloomberg that carbon dioxide injection was being considered as a way of freeing up natural gas to meet growing domestic industrial demand.

In a carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (EOR) project, the greenhouse gas is pumped into a reservoir to maintain the pressure for oil recovery so that associated natural gas can be extracted, rather than re-injected.

Adnoc’s onshore subsidiary Abu Dhabi Company of Onshore Oil operations (Adco) has already completed a pilot scheme to inject gas into its Rumaitha field at a rate of 1.2 million cubic feet a day.

Carbon dioxide injection in Abu Dhabi is likely to significantly increase the average cost of producing a barrel of oil in Abu Dhabi.

According to Stuart Walley, regional manager, Middle East & India, for consultancy Senergy, the main expense will be in transporting the gas from its point of origin, likely to be a power plant, to Adnoc’s oil fields.

“If they were to go to full field carbon dioxide EOR project, they would have to build the pipelines from the point where they capture the gas to transport it to the well site to inject,” says Walley. “The costs offshore would be even greater because you don’t have a large power station nearby, so you would need to pipe the carbon dioxide to the fields offshore, and that is going to be very costly.”

Adnoc is reportedly working with Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy group Masdar to develop carbon capture operations to feed potential EOR schemes.

In 2008, Dubai’s state-owned oil company, Dubai Petroleum Establishment (DPE), launched a study into carbon dioxide capture for injection into its offshore fields. But this was found to be uneconomical and  was shelved in favour of miscible gas injection.

“Dubai would have had to invest huge amounts that [its oil production] wouldn’t be able to cover,” says Walley. “But the economics stack up more favourably in Abu Dhabi, as they have much greater reserves.”