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UW: More Than a Billion Barrels of Stranded Oil Can Be Recovered in Wyo.

Rituraj Borgohain, a UW research scientist, works in the Enhanced Oil Recovery Research Laboratory, located in the Energy Innovation Center. (UW Photo)
Rituraj Borgohain, a UW research scientist, works in the Enhanced Oil Recovery Research Laboratory, located in the Energy Innovation Center.  (UW Photo)

The Director of the University of Wyoming Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute says tens of billions of barrels of oil remain stranded in Wyoming’s aging oil fields. David Mohrbacher says the University’s Energy Innovation Center can help the state’s small oil operators retrieve 5 to 15 percent of the state’s stranded oil reserves.

Mohrbacher says more enhanced oil recovery can take place in these oil reservoirs when prices are nearer $100 a barrel than $50 a barrel because higher oil prices justify more activity. Even though infrastructure exists, it often has to be retrofitted, brought up to safety standards and special equipment brought to the site.

“We typically recover between 30 percent and 50 percent of the oil in (Wyoming’s) older fields using typical production techniques,” he says. “Fifty to 70 percent of the original oil in place remains stranded and is still there to recover. We are trying to recover another part of that stranded oil.”

Mohrbacher says approximately 14 percent of Wyoming’s oil was produced using carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery during 2011, and production using this method will increase as several new floods are initiated during the next few years. In 2010, Wyoming ranked eighth in the nation in the production of crude oil.

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