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Shell launches commercial operation of Quest carbon capture and storage in Alberta oil sands

Shell marked the official opening of the Quest carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Alberta, Canada, and the start of commercial operations there. Quest is designed to capture and safely store more than one million tonnes of CO2 each year—equal to the emissions from about 250,000 cars. Quest was made possible through strong collaboration between the public and private sectors aimed at advancing CCS globally.

Using activated amine (ADIP-X), Quest will capture one-third of the CO2 emissions from Shell’s Scotford Upgrader, which turns oil sands bitumen into synthetic crude that can be refined into fuel and other products. The CO2 is a byproduct of the production of hydrogen, which is used to upgrade the bitumen.

Quest

The CO2 is then transported through a 65-kilometer pipeline and injected more than two kilometers underground below multiple layers of impermeable rock formations.

Te Storage zone is a formation called Basal Cambrian Sands (BCS). It features multiple caprock and salt seal layers. No significant faulting is visible from wells or seismic analysis. The BCS is well below hydrocarbon-bearing formations and potable water zones in the region.

Quest is now operating at commercial scale after successful testing earlier this year, during which it captured and stored more than 200,000 tonnes of CO2.

Quest has a robust measurement, monitoring and verification program agreed upon with the government and verified by a third party (Det Norske Veritas (DNV)).

Quest was built on behalf of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project joint-venture owners Shell Canada Energy (60%), Chevron Canada Limited (20%) and Marathon Oil Canada Corporation (20%), and was made possible through strong support from the governments of Alberta and Canada who provided C$865 million in funding. The governments of Alberta and Canada contributed C$745 million and C$120 million respectively to Quest.

As part of its funding arrangements, Shell is publicly sharing information on Quest’s design and processes to further global adoption of CCS. Quest draws on techniques used by the energy industry for decades and integrates the components of CCS for the large-scale capture, transport and storage of CO2.

Collaboration is continuing through Quest between Shell and various parties in an effort to bring down costs of future CCS projects globally. This includes cooperation with the United States Department of Energy, and the British government on research at the Quest site.

Support from the local community was essential to building Quest, Shell noted. Shell initiated public consultation in 2008, two years before submitting a regulatory application.

Public consultation was developed in collaboration with the Pembina Institute, a Canadian think tank focused on energy issues. A community advisory panel of local leaders and residents will regularly review results from Quest’s monitoring program.

Shell and the United States Department of Energy will field-test advanced monitoring technologies alongside the state-of-the-art, comprehensive monitoring program already in place for Quest.

Shell is involved in a slate of CCS projects worldwide. The proposed Peterhead CCS project in the United Kingdom, currently in the design stage, is part of the UK Government’s CCS Commercialisation Programme (subject to investor approval and the securing of relevant permits).

Shell is also a partner in the Chevron-led Gorgon project in Australia and has a share in the Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) in Norway.

CCS technology developed by Shell subsidiary Cansolv is in use at the commercial-scale Boundary Dam CCS project in Saskatchewan, Canada, which opened in 2014.

Comments

Calgarygary

The capital cost for this project was at least $1000 per tonne of capacity. To get a reasonable return on that sort of investment you'd need a carbon tax of at least $100/tonne to cover capital, depreciation and operation costs. I believe the proponents of these projects expect they'll become more cost effective but I've never seen anyone address the cost issues.

A tax of $100 per tonne would add about 9 cents per kwh to coal generated electricity which might make solar and storage a competitive choice to CCS.

Conservative politicians are fond of the expression "Governments should not be in the business of picking winners" so as if to put an exclamation point on that philosophy they pick losers instead.

SJC

Sequestered CO2 may be needed in the future to make synthetic fuels.

Calgarygary

I was thinking that perhaps in 100 years when the temperatures start to cool off, folks might decide they prefer it a bit warmer and then they could open the valve and release a bit of CO2.

Lad

Calgarygary: Coal is never a good alternative to any form of energy because of the land and watershed damage in mining, the fly ash and sulfur gas pollution in the air and the mountains of toxic ash residue spills that have polluted waterways in several states. Notice; I didn't even include climate change. Actually, I believe coal has proven to be the worse choice from an environmental pollution perspective.

SJC

Releasing CO2 here AND burning fossil fuels in cars REALLY emits a lot of carbon into the air. Sequester the CO2 from here to make synthetic fuels with solar electrolysis hydrogen. That would reduce carbon emissions, instead of CO2 here AND tailpipes, there is only tailpipes.

Engineer-Poet

I'm not sure which is more efficient:  the diesel running on DME, or the Otto running on MeOH.  Both are roughly equivalent based on the energy burden of CO2 capture from air and hydrogen production.  What I do know is that the ultrasupercharged Otto-cycle engine can achieve roughly 3x the power density of the diesel, and likely much-reduced mechanical losses.

HarveyD

The new Canadian government will soon join BC, Ontario and Quebec provinces with the application of a progressive (variable) national carbon tax or fee.

The ideal would be a Federal variable carbon tax based on the real GHG and pollution produced in each province; if impossible to do, let the provinces handle it.

Of course, Alberta's pollution taxes should be the highest. The local provincial sale taxes may have to be reintroduced to do it.

Since GHG travel across provincial borders, some kind of compensation mechanism may have to be introduced.

In the very near term, the Paris meeting and China's (North-East) current extremely high air pollution level may help to drive changes.

Calgarygary

HD

The interesting thing about a carbon tax is that I suspect it will have a bigger impact on electricity than transportation since oil is generally so much more expensive than coal or gas.

100 dollars per tonne would cost me an extra $400 for gasoline (2000 liters) and $630 for electricity (7000 kwh). That would probably be a pretty strong incentive to look for alternatives, especially in electricity. I'm pretty sure $100 per tonne is highly improbable though.

HarveyD

The dipping point may be a bit below $100/tonne to convince the majority to generate, store and use cleaner electricity sources.

There are enough unharnessed clean Hydro-Wind-Solar energies in Canada and USA (and in many other places) to generate all the clean electricity required, as long as we exist.

The Russian and Alaskan Tundra has started to crack very badly. Canada's will be next? The methane released could make matters worst very quickly?

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