Shell will proceed with the first carbon capture and storage (CCS) project for an oil sands operation in Canada. The $1.35-billion Quest project will be built on behalf of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project joint venture owners (Shell, Chevron and Marathon Oil) and with support from the Governments of Canada and Alberta. Shell has received the necessary federal and provincial regulatory approvals for Quest. (Earlier post.)
Quest is the world’s first commercial-scale CCS project to tackle carbon emissions in the oil sands, and the first CCS project in which Shell will hold majority ownership and act as designer, builder and operator. It will also form the core of Shell’s CCS research program and help develop Shell’s CO2 capture technology.
The Athabasca Oil Sands Project, with 255,000 barrels per day of mining and upgrading capacity, is a joint venture among Shell Canada Energy (60%), Chevron Canada Limited (20%) and Marathon Oil Canada Corporation (20%).
The Athabasca Oil Sands project produces bitumen, which is piped to Shell’s Scotford Upgrader near Edmonton, Alberta. From late 2015, the Quest CCS project will capture more than one million tonnes per year of CO2 from the Scotford Upgrader located near Edmonton, Alberta and transport it up by an 80 km underground pipeline to a storage site north of the Scotford site. There, it will inject it the gas than two kilometers underground into a porous rock formation called the Basal Cambrian Sands (BCS), which is located beneath layers of impermeable rock.
|CO2 capture at Scotford. Click to enlarge.|
CO2 will be captured from the Upgrader’s hydrogen manufacturing units. An absorber vessel will use an amine solvent to capture the CO2. The CO2 is then released from the amine by heating. The CO2 will be dehydrated and compressed into a dense fluid for safe pipeline transport.
Quest will reduce direct emissions from the Scotford Upgrader by up to 35%—the equivalent of taking 175,000 North American cars off the road annually.
Both the Canadian federal and Albertan provincial governments have identified CCS as an important technology in their strategies to reduce CO2 emissions. The Alberta government will invest $745 million in Quest from a $2-billion fund to support CCS, while the Government of Canada will invest $120 million through its Clean Energy Fund.
To improve efficiency, up to 50% of project work will be done offsite at a construction yard yet to be selected. Shell will use third-party construction facilities in Edmonton, helping the continuing development of key construction capacity in the province. Large pre-assembled modules will then be delivered to the Shell site for installation.