The US Department of Energy is beginning a program to demonatrate a way in which the oil industry can produce useful power from waste heat.
When drilling oil and gas wells and on exploration drilling rigs, fluids are used to provide pressure, to keep the drill bit cool and clean and to carry the drill cuttings out of the bore hole. Because these wells are often deep the fluids are hot when they reach the surface. In the average US oil well, ten times as much hot fluid is produced as oil.
The Department of Energy intends to demonstrate how the waste heat in this fluid can be used to generate electricity.
Because the use of the waste heat produces no new carbon emissions, it effectively lowers the carbon cost of the extracted oil.