POWDER RIVER -- Gov. Matt Mead and other state and local officials gathered Wednesday in a small lot in western Natrona County to dedicate a carbon dioxide pipeline that will bring new life to oil fields in Wyoming and Montana.
The Greencore Pipeline, a 232-mile project of Plano, Texas-based Denbury Resources, will begin transporting carbon dioxide around the first of the year, according to Bob Cornelius, company vice president of carbon dioxide operations.
The line will connect the ConocoPhillips-owned Lost Cabin gas plant near Lysite to the Bell Creek oil field in southeast Montana, carrying carbon dioxide along a line through Natrona, Johnson and Campbell counties.
Carbon dioxide is an increasingly popular agent in oil field flooding, a process in which the gas is injected into the ground, freeing up trapped oil deposits and adding years to the life of an oil field.
Greencore is the first phase of a larger plan by Denbury, which the company hopes will include installing more carbon dioxide infrastructure in the Rocky Mountains. The company plans to create an operation to rival its own Gulf Coast-area infrastructure, which includes more than 800 miles of pipeline and 16 carbon dioxide-fed oil fields.
"This is just the first piece," Cornelius said Wednesday. "Any time you do something the first time, it's a celebration."
Mead, who has in the past called for more carbon dioxide pipeline in Wyoming, cut a ribbon and opened a line valve at a Natrona County pump station during the dedication.
"Congratulations to the state," he said. "This is absolutely great."
Denbury plans to seek additional sources of the gas, typically anthropogenic -- or man-made. Cornelius said the Lost Cabin plant's gas was previously being vented into the atmosphere, meaning the use of the gas is an environmental boon.
"It's a win," he said. "It's a win for the environment, a win for the economy and win for energy."
Denbury plans to eventually connect its under-construction Riley Ridge gas plant south of Pinedale to the line.
The company is also looking to add to its portfolio of Wyoming oil fields and connect more to the Greencore network. The company owns stake in the Hartzog Draw oil field south of Gillette and the Grieve field about 50 miles west of Casper, both of which have been identified as targets for carbon dioxide flooding.