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Shell secures C$865M funding for Canadian CO2 storage project; >1M tonnes/yr from oil sands

The carbon capture process at the Scotford oil sands upgrader will capture about 35% of emissions. Click to enlarge.

Shell has signed agreements with the Governments of Alberta and Canada to secure C$865 million (US$876 million) in funding for its Quest Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Project in Canada. (Earlier post.) The Quest Project will capture and permanently store deep underground more than 1 million tonnes of CO2 per year—about 35% of the total emissions—from Shell’s Scotford Upgrader near Edmonton, Alberta, which processes heavy oil from the Athabasca oil sands.

CO2 will be captured from the upgrader’s hydrogen manufacturing units (steam methane reformers) by an absorber vessel using an amine solvent. The CO2 will then be released from the amine by heating, and dehydrated and compressed into a dense fluid for pipeline transport.

CO2 injection at Quest. Click to enlarge.

Wastewater collected from the amine wash water vessels, the triethylene glycol dehydration unit, and the compressor knockout drums will be treated in the existing wastewater treatment plants at Scotford Base Plant and Expansion 1.

The CO2 will be transported by an 84 km (52-mile), 12-inch (30.5 cm) pipeline to injection wells north of Shell Scotford and permanently stored more than two kilometers (1.24 miles) underground into the deepest saline aquifer formation in Alberta (the Basal Cambrian Sands) beneath several layers of impermeable rock.

The signing of the funding agreement was announced  as part of an event marking the earlier start-up of Shell’s 100,000-barrel-per-day expansion of its Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP), bringing total capacity to 255,000 barrels per day. The AOSP includes the Muskeg River Mine, Jackpine Mine and Scotford.

Quest would be the first application of CCS technology for an oil sands upgrading operation. Not only would it allow us to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of our oil sands operation here in Alberta, but it will contribute to the global knowledge that will help to get other CCS projects up and running more quickly.

—John Abbott, Shell’s Executive Vice President of Heavy Oil

Regulatory applications for the Quest Project were submitted in November 2010. The signing of the funding agreements represents another important milestone prior to Shell taking a financial investment decision in 2012, subject to the outcome of the regulatory process and economic feasibility.

The Quest Project is being advanced on behalf of the AOSP, a joint venture among Shell Canada (60%) Chevron Canada Limited (20%) and Marathon Oil Canada Corporation (20%).

Shell is seeking to improve its oil sands environmental performance through CO2 reduction, improved water management and minimizing the impacts of tailings ponds. A number of  technological solutions, including CCS, will be required to achieve that goal, the company said.

With CO2 injection planned for 2015, the Quest Project would join a handful of CCS projects around the world that are injecting CO’ at a commercial scale. Shell is working with governments and other experts globally on both political and technical levels to facilitate the development and wide-scale deployment of CCS; the company is involved in progressing a number of projects around the world, across a wide range of sectors.


  • M. Winkler et al. (2010) The Dynamic Aspect of Formation Storage Use for CO2 Sequestration. (SPE 139730-MS) doi: 10.2118/139730-MS



Both governments (Alberta and Canada) are even more stupid than Shell; that's quite an accomplishment. Any way anyone may look at such a sequestration process, it is meaningless B.S. and detrimental for the future. Instead of doing something productive with CO2 (like AUDI), Shell is receiving good money for a rotten service.
Greetings from the Gulf.

Be reasonable, yoatmon. They are sending the demon gas back to hell where it belongs. That is consistent with both the one true path and the climate inquisition.

Demon gas be gone!


Be reasonable, yoatmon. They are sending the demon gas back to hell where it belongs.

No, they are just trying to greenwash the dirtiest oil there is. Instead of spending all that money to send "the demon gas back to hell" they should spend it on alternatives that would leave it there in the first place.

Nick Lyons




I bet $865M would go a long way to build a prototype LFTR. LFTRs are safe, non-polluting, and don't have any long term radio-active waste. Should be less than half the cost of conventional nuclear power plants. See:


Extracting and refining oil from tar sands is an all around very dirty business. Capturing 35% (it may even be a lot less) of the CO2 created and pumping it deep underground is a very partial solution. Nobody knows the long turn results.

Other major pollution created, specially from tailing ponds and mining operations, have not been addressed.

I wouldn't live with 500 Km from those open mines and treatment plants..


They could find a use for the stored CO2 to make hydrocarbon fuels. Feed it to algae and make diesel, who knows.


As Harvey correctly points out, CCS is a 35% solution that still leaves us with a 65% problem. We need to do better.

Turning the CO2 into hydrocarbon fuels only puts it into the air later when you burn the fuel in your car. There's little benefit because the source is still fossil: You're really only trading the CO2 from the upstream process for the some from the downstream product.


If you make fuel you are using the CO2 twice. The other way there is CO2 from the operation AND CO2 from the tailpipes. Overall there IS a reduction in emissions.


A 50% reduction is timid when we need 85% just to stabilize atmospheric CO2.

These schemes also beg the question: where can you get the energy to re-use this CO2, and if you have that energy, why not just use it to replace the fossil fuels in the first place/


There are new reports stating that oil sands emissions (methane?) from the tailings are comparable to the the balance of CO2 from the rest of processing.
No amount of sequestering can bring this industries footprint to the levels associated with other fossil fuel sources. The recovery from sands has left so much carbon fuel behind that reworking these massive tailings with higher recovery tecniques is being looked at.
It is not suggested that this will be enough to put the industry in a low carbon status even without the end use considerations.
There are also concerns that Nat Gas will provide only a marginal if any improvement over traditional fossil fuel sources.(except at end use)
This is because the leakage and also high processing transport etc are thought to cancel much of the LCFuel benefits commonly expected from that source.

When we need to find ~85 % reductions , the sands industry has more legacy challenges than most.


Let's see, a 50% reduction is to be rejected because it is not as far as we want to go...yeah, that makes sense..not.


Using clean e-energy to produce more carbon based liquid fuel for our gas guzzlers does not make much common sense. We could learn to do better.


We could all hope for utopia, but it is much better to be practical and go with what we have to get where we want to go.

a 50% reduction is to be rejected because it is not as far as we want to go...
And because it is less efficient and less flexible than separate cycles.

And because it entrenches fossil-fuel production as the feedstock for the "recycled" portion, limiting the reductions going forward.

We could all hope for utopia, but it is much better to be practical
Another irony meter blown by overload.


Go stuff it EP.

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