A research team led by Indian American Prof. Ganesh Thakur at the University of Houston has begun a $1.4 million project to demonstrate using carbon dioxide captured from nearby petrochemical plants to boost oil recovery in a field in the Indian state of Assam, a project which will help to reduce the country’s carbon footprint, the university announced in a Sept. 25 news release.
The project is part of an ongoing partnership launched last year between the university and Oil India Ltd., the nation’s national oil company, according to the news release.
“This ambitious partnership has offered clear benefits for both Oil India and for the University of Houston,” said university president Renu Khator in a statement.
“Finding a way to safely meet the growing demand for energy in India and other parts of the world is a fundamental challenge, and we appreciate the opportunity for our faculty and students to play a vital role in solving such important real-world problems,” Khator added.
The project is led by Thakur, who was recruited by the university in 2016 as director of Energy Industrial Partnerships. A member of the National Academy of Engineering and a former executive at Chevron Corporation, Thakur also serves as distinguished professor of petroleum engineering.
The initial phase, funded by $500,000 from Oil India, included the calculation by university researchers that the company’s oil reserves are substantially higher than previously thought.
Additionally, the phase provided recommendations that increased production by 21 percent at one well alone, a first-year revenue increase of $4 million.
Thakur has overseen both Phase 1 of the partnership, cemented by a Memorandum of Understanding signed last year, and Phase 2, which focuses on demonstrating the effectiveness of flooding key oilfields in northeastern India with carbon dioxide, a technique that has been used to enhance oil recovery in the United States for 45 years, according to the university.
According to Thakur, demand for energy is increasing in India, where the gross domestic product is rising about 7 percent a year.
The country now imports more than 80 percent of its oil consumption, making it important to increase what it can produce domestically, the university said.
The carbon capture project will also include technical training for Oil India personnel on advanced enhanced oil recovery techniques and project design, along with a seismic study of the Makum-North Hapjan Field, it said.
The initial project was completed in June.