Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a GHG that comes from burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, through activities like driving a car or creating electricity. For large stationary sources of CO2, like an oil refinery, use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) can help prevent these emissions from entering the atmosphere. Captured CO2 is injected into carefully selected sites deep underground for safe, long-term storage.
Alberta has committed $1.24 billion through 2025 to two commercial-scale carbon capture and storage projects. Both projects will help reduce the CO2 emissions from the oil sands and fertilizer sectors and reduce GHG emissions by 2.76 million tonnes each year. This is equivalent to the yearly emissions of 600,000 vehicles. Both projects must submit annual reports to the knowledge sharing program ensure public access to the technical information and project learnings.
The funding for both of the following projects was developed based on the 2008 project proposal. The process and the funding agreements are explained in the following documents for each project:
- Quest consolidated funding document (PDF, 2.1 MB)
- Alberta Carbon Trunk Link (ACTL) funding document (PDF, 2.3 MB)
The Quest Project
This project retrofitted Shell’s Scotford upgrader for CCS. The project is capturing CO2 from oil sands upgrading and transporting it 65 kilometres north for permanent storage approximately two kilometres below the earth's surface.
Quest is designed to capture up to 1.08 million tonnes of CO2 per year (approximately 35 per cent of the CO2 produced by the upgrader). The Quest Project is the world’s first application of carbon capture and storage technology at an oil sands upgrader.
In 2010-11 an environmental assessment was completed.
Alberta Government: $745 million until 2025
Companies involved: Shell Canada Energy (project operator), Canadian Natural Upgrading Limited, Chevron Canada Limited and 1745844 Alberta Ltd. (owners)
The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line Project (ACTL)
The ACTL is a 240-kilometer pipeline that will carry CO2 captured from the Sturgeon Refinery and the Nutrien Redwater fertilizer plant to enhanced oil recovery projects in central Alberta. The ACTL will initially see an emissions reduction of 1.68 million tonnes of CO2 per year when the project is fully operational in 2019.
The designed capacity of the ACTL pipeline is 14.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year, which will allow future carbon capture and storage projects to use it as the industry grows.
CO2 is separated and collected from emissions produced by industrial activity, then compressed and transported to a storage site and injected into carefully selected, secure underground geological formations that can safely and permanently store the gas. An illustration of this can be found in the CCS fact sheet . After injection activity ends at the site, the site is tightly sealed and monitored to ensure there are no safety or health risks to the public or to the environment.
Statoil developed the first commercial-scale CCS project in the world in 1996 just off the coast of Norway. Oil and gas producers have decades of experience injecting CO2 into oil fields for enhanced oil recovery.
Storage formation types
- Depleted oil and gas reservoirs (natural storage formations), the injected CO2 fills the tiny pores in the rock that were previously filled by oil or natural gas.
- Deep underground saline formations are large, porous rock formations that contain water unusable because of it is extremely high salt and/or mineral content, this salty water absorbs CO2 over time. In Alberta, CO2 storage in underground saline formations must be at least 1km from the surface. A cap rock above the formation contains the CO2.
Monitoring, measurement and verification
Monitoring and measurement are the surveillance activities necessary for ensuring the safe and reliable operation of a CO2 storage project. Verification refers to the comparison of measured and predicted performance.
Storage sites are analysed and monitored:
- before (to establish a baseline)
- during (reporting safety, measures of CO2 in the ground air and water and tracks injection rates and volumes)
- after (for decades, to confirm it is performing as expected) large-scale CO2 storage projects to ensure the area surrounding the site is unaffected and the CO2 is safely contained in the storage site
Types of monitoring and measurement:
- Subsurface: monitors the movement of the CO2 in the storage site and the stability of the cap rock.
- Near surface: monitors soil, well water, and groundwater to ensure CO2 is not leaking.
- Atmospheric: monitors CO2 levels in the air around the site.
Legislation and policy
Many aspects of carbon capture and storage projects are covered by Alberta’s existing oil and gas regulations, but the following acts and regulations promote the safe and effective use of carbon capture and storage technology:
- Carbon Capture and Storage Funding Act
- Carbon Capture and Storage Funding Regulation (funding for education and the assessment)
- Carbon Capture and Storage Statutes Amendment Act, 2010 (allows the government to assume long-term liability for storage sites, the Act makes it mandatory for carbon capture and storage operators to contribute to the Post-Closure Stewardship Fund. The provincial government will use this fund for ongoing monitoring and any required maintenance and remediation. This Act also clarifies that the Government of Alberta is the owner of pore space, but does not change ownership of mine and mineral resources in any way.)
- Carbon Sequestration Tenure Regulation (establishes the process companies must follow to obtain tenure or lease rights for pore space.)
A Regulatory Framework Assessment took place from 2011 to 2013, in which more than 100 global experts on carbon capture and storage, including representatives from industry, environmental groups, scholars, and government worked on a review of existing regulations. The final report of the findings includes over 70 conclusions and recommendations that continue to inform the ongoing development of the carbon capture and storage regulatory framework in Alberta to ensure the safest and most environmentally responsible regulatory environment for carbon capture and storage.
Knowledge sharing reporting
Alberta's investment in CCS will also help make carbon capture and storage technologies more accessible. Both funded CCS projects are required to share technical information and lessons learned. This will help future CCS projects from around the world benefit from the lessons learned in Alberta. These reports are provided to the Government of Alberta, and the Government of Alberta has obtained a license or other authorization for use of the reports. Please see Alberta's CCS Knowledge Sharing Program records, which include a disclaimer and full terms and conditions of use.
CCS beyond Alberta
- Atlas of Canada Clean Energy Resources and Projects (CERP)
CERP is a map populated by Natural Resources Canada to show where projects are located and how much clean energy resource potential exists across the country. It includes CCS facilities and distributed generation capacity across Canada.
- CCS 101 , the Canadian Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Information Source
This federal/provincial/territorial government-based network was created under the direction of the Council of Energy Ministers in September 2008 to address key CCS issues of common interest across Canada.
- California Energy Commission
California offers extensive carbon sequestration reports on their site.
- Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum
A partnership of governments focused on developing technologies for CCS through collaborative efforts that address key technical, economic and environmental obstacles.
- CCS Association
An industry-led group that promotes CCS activities in the UK and elsewhere.
- Global CCS Institute
The institute announced by the Australian Government in 2008 aims to accelerate the worldwide commercial deployment of at-scale CCS.
- Norway - Ministry of Petroleum and Energy - CCS
CCS is a central part of the Norwegian government’s policy on energy and climate change.
- Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership
The partnership is a multiyear collaboration of over 80 U.S. and Canadian stakeholders to lay the groundwork for practical and environmentally sound CO2 sequestration projects in the heartland of North America.
- UK Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Research Centre
Hosted by the School of Geo Sciences, University of Edinburgh, part of Scottish Centre for Carbon Storage (SCCS) the largest carbon storage grouping in the UK. Dozens of researchers extend world-class expertise in CO2 storage evaluation and injection, using petroleum and hydrocarbon geoscience (based on geology, geophysics, geo-engineering and subsurface fluid flow).
- Zero Emission Platform (ZEP)
Founded in 2005, ZEP is a coalition of European utilities, petroleum companies, equipment suppliers, scientist, academics and environmental NGOs united in their support for CCS as a key technology for combating climate change.
To connect with the Carbon Capture and Storage team:
Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)