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The Investment for 2013: Solar Oil Extraction

Two words can change everything when they are combined: solar and crude.

We’re just getting started with this in earnest, but what we’re talking about is solar technology that can extract heavy crude from played-out wells cheaper and more effectively than natural gas processes.

First, let’s look at the process, and then we’ll get to the investment opportunities.

As much as two-thirds of every well’s crude oil is left behind, unproduced. These are “aging” or “played-out” wells. More to the point: most current oil production actually comes from these “mature” pools. Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is the process of extracting these significant leftovers.

Most commonly, EOR is conducted through three separate process: natural gas EOR, carbon dioxide (CO2) EOR and chemical EOR—to a lesser extent nitrogen and oxygen are used.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) injection is one of the most common methods of EOR, and there are over 100 CO2EOR projects currently in process in the US—the bulk of them in western Texas. One problem with this method is that there are often challenges to finding suitable CO2 volumes. This can get expensive, especially if CO2 has to be piped to the location. If there are no nearby supplies, a pipeline has to be built to pump it in.

While nitrogen and oxygen can also be used and can be produced on site, they also require the use of huge compressors to inject…

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