Forecast shows increase in Wyo. oil production
Industry officials estimate Wyoming's oil production will increase slightly over the next few years, thanks in large part to a new technology that uses carbon dioxide to push oil up to the surface.
Carbon dioxide flooding could help stem a 20-year decline in Wyoming's oil production, said Don Likwartz, director of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
''We show it going up slightly in 2006, and then continue to increase through 2009, and then start back down in 2010,'' Likwartz said.
Wyoming's oil production has fallen by about 5 percent each year since the drilling bust of 1985. Since then, coal and natural gas development increased, helping preserve fossil fuels as drivers of Wyoming's economy.
But new pumping techniques, including carbon dioxide flooding, are helping to reverse that slide.
With carbon dioxide flooding, CO2 and water are forced into an oil well, creating pressure on oil reserves. That helps to push oil up through adjoining wells, making available oil that previously couldn't be reached or was too expensive to reach.
''These new enhanced oil recovery projects, if they are as successful as we hope, could in fact flatten out the depletion curve for as long as they are on line,'' Wyoming State Geologist Ron Surdam said.
For the past two years, Anadarko Petroleum has been replacing miles of old pipelines and retooling hundreds of old wells. Other companies, too, are expected to put the technique to use.
''We're retrofitting a 100-year-old oil field, so we're not disturbing new lands,'' said Rick Robitaille, a spokesman for Anadarko Petroleum. ''By rejuvenating these historic fields, we will help slow - if not stem - that decline for a while.''