Inside the Dirty, Dangerous World of Carbon Flooding

Ecology, Threats

Inside the Dirty, Dangerous World of Carbon Flooding

Around the world, scientists and advocates call for keeping carbon in the ground as a means of staving off climate change. But in the Southwestern United States – mainly in Colorado and New Mexico – a mainstay of obtaining more oil is facilitated by doing the exact opposite: drilling pure reserves of carbon dioxide out of the ground.

After it’s extracted from these natural-source underground fields, the gas then gets piped to the Permian Basin, the nation’s top-producing oil fields of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico. There, oil companies use the CO2 to flood their wells, forcing the last dregs of crude to the surface in a process also known as enhanced oil recovery, or EOR.

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