Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage has been one of many favorite topics at TechPolicy. Dave at The Oil Drum has a very nice post analyzing the implications of Weyburn EOR project. I recommend the whole piece, but the gist of the story is as follows:
What did Weyburn actually demonstrate? What is the longer term meaning of the Weyburn project?
1. Does the Weyburn experiment extend to new (primary or secondary) oil production, deepwater or land-based? -- No.
2. Is carbon capture (as in the Beulah coal gasification facility upstream from Weyburn) viable yet? -- Yes, technologically, but really no, not without laws mandating that CO2 emissions be penalized to justify the higher costs of capturing the carbon, costs which will be passed on to consumers. See the Socolow article in Scientific American cited above.
3. Is carbon capture of fossil fuels industrial production sites better than using a natural CO2 source? -- Sure.
4. Does the Weyburn process reduce future CO2 emissions even if universally applied? -- Only in those special cases where CO2 injection is appropriate for EOR at the tail end of an oil field's production. This will depend on the field's geological characteristics.
5. Does the Weyburn process (universally applied) have a large impact on reducing total anthropogenic emissions from fossil fuels? -- Absolutely not but it does create a very small % reductions in emissions.
Yes, projects like Weyburn are not going to cut the mustard (Dave's words, not mine), but they are extremely important. Even if one does not think that CO2 capture and sequestration is the way to go, we are much better off putting less CO2 in the atmosphere than otherwise. Finally, Dave talks about what he thinks is a good path forward:
...we can implement energy alternatives now, reduce demand and produce the oil with sequestered CO2 as at Weyburn.
Unfortunately, we do not have good energy alternatives NOW for transportation purposes, but we are not doing our part in reducing demand either.