The demand for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology from industry is increasing as it will help diversify the energy sector, including developing clean hydrogen and supporting the shift towards a net-zero electricity grid.
Carbon storage hubs in Alberta
To help manage the growth of this technology, Alberta is issuing carbon sequestration rights through a competitive process that enables the development of carbon storage hubs. A carbon storage, or sequestration, hub will be an area of pore space, such as rock formations, managed by a company that can effectively plan and enable carbon sequestration of captured carbon dioxide (CO2) from various emissions sources.
This approach will ensure that carbon capture and sequestration will be deployed in a responsible, safe and strategic manner. It will be an effective way to avoid challenges associated with numerous, and potentially overlapping, sequestration proposals.
Approval process for storage hubs
Alberta has the processes in place to advance the development of carbon storage hubs while protecting the safety of Albertans and the environment. Companies selected to explore the development of carbon storage hubs will assess the suitability and safety of their locations. Once the proposed project demonstrates it can provide safe and permanent storage, the company may apply to government for the right to inject captured CO2. This agreement will also ensure that they will provide open access and affordable use of the hub.
Evaluating the potential of carbon storage hubs is the first of many steps required before they can be used. Other steps include ongoing monitoring, measurement and verification activities, as well as consultation with landowners, municipalities and other stakeholders.
In addition, for a proposal to move forward, the operator will need to obtain approvals from the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) to ensure the activity is safe and environmentally responsible.
On April 25, 2023, the Government of Alberta delegated to the AER the oversight of MMV plans, closure plans, and closure certificates for CCUS activities in the province. The AER has amended references to and submission requirements for MMV and closure plan submissions that can be found at Directive 065: Resources Applications for Oil and Gas Reservoirs.
For more information about the AER approval process, see Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage.
Granting carbon sequestration tenure
The Alberta government recognizes the need for timely and safe development of sequestration hubs and allocation of sequestration pore space.
The Request for Full Project Proposals (RFPP) process will ultimately facilitate the granting of a carbon sequestration agreement (agreement) to the successful proponent(s), establish the boundaries of the location, and facilitate the hub manager role. The intent of this agreement is to:
- Grant the successful proponent the right to drill wells, conduct evaluation and testing, establish monitoring baselines, and inject captured carbon dioxide into deep subsurface formations within previously defined zones for sequestration, while also:
- Placing requirements on the agreement holder that include:
- managing the development of the hub and the efficient use of the pore space
- ensuring open access to affordable use of the hub where appropriate
- providing just and reasonable cost recovery to the agreement holder
Additional information on the intended agreement provisions, conditions and requirements are in the RFPP Guidelines (PDF, 1.2 MB).
First competition to develop storage hubs
To meet the large interest that has been expressed and to move forward in a manageable manner, the province initially requested proposals that would enable sequestration of carbon emissions from Alberta’s Industrial Heartland region near Edmonton. Government selected 6 proposals to begin exploring how to safely develop carbon storage hubs in the region. They are:
- Meadowbrook Hub Project, Bison Low Carbon Ventures Inc. for a potential sequestration hub north of Edmonton
- Open Access Wabamun Carbon Hub, Enbridge Inc. for a potential sequestration hub west of Edmonton
- Origins Project, Enhance Energy Inc. for a potential sequestration hub south of Edmonton
- Alberta Carbon Grid™, Pembina Pipeline Corp. and TC Energy Corp. for a potential sequestration hub north and northeast of Edmonton
- Atlas Carbon Sequestration Hub (Atlas Hub), Shell Canada Ltd. and ATCO Energy Solutions Ltd. for a potential sequestration hub east of Edmonton
- Wolf Midstream and partners for a potential sequestration hub east of Edmonton
All 6 proposals have entered into evaluation agreements with the province to further explore the project areas’ suitability for safely storing industrial emissions. If the evaluation demonstrates that the proposed projects can provide permanent storage, companies will be able to apply for the right to inject captured CO2. Only projects that meet Alberta’s rigorous safety and environmental standards will ultimately be approved by the AER.
Second competition to develop storage hubs
A second competition was held to provide carbon storage services to regions across the rest of the province not covered by the first RFPP. Government selected proposals to begin exploring how to safely develop carbon storage hubs across Alberta. They include:
- Athabasca Banks Carbon Hub, Vault 44.01 Ltd. and Moraine Initiatives Ltd. for a potential sequestration hub north of Whitecourt
- Battle River Carbon Hub, Heartland Generation Ltd. for a potential sequestration hub east of Red Deer
- Bow River Hub, Inter Pipeline Ltd. and Entropy Inc. for a potential sequestration hub north of Calgary
- Brazeau Carbon Sequestration Hub, Tidewater Midstream & Infrastructure Ltd. for a potential sequestration hub west of Edmonton
- Central Alberta Hub, Wolf Carbon Solutions Inc. and Whitecap Resources Inc. for a potential sequestration hub east of Red Deer
- East Calgary Region Carbon Sequestration Hub, Reconciliation Energy Transition Inc. for a potential Southern Alberta sequestration hub
- Grande Prairie Net Zero Gateway; NorthRiver Midstream Inc., Keyera Corp., and Entropy Inc. for a potential sequestration hub north of Grande Prairie
- Greenview Region CCS Project, ARC Resources Ltd. for a potential sequestration hub southeast of Grande Prairie
- Maskwa Project, Kiwetinohk Energy Corp. for a potential sequestration hub around Swan Hills
- North Drumheller Hub, Bison Low Carbon Ventures Inc. for a potential sequestration hub north of Drumheller
- Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero; Pathways Alliance for a potential sequestration hub east of Edmonton
- Opal Carbon Hub, Kiwetinohk Energy Corp. for a potential sequestration hub northwest of Whitecourt
- Pincher Creek Carbon Sequestration Hub, West Lake Energy Corp. for a potential sequestration hub southeast of Pincher Creek
- Project Clear Horizon, City of Medicine Hat for a potential sequestration hub northwest of Medicine Hat
- Ram River Carbon Sequestration Hub, Tidewater Midstream & Infrastructure Ltd. for a potential sequestration hub west of Red Deer
- Rocky Mountain Carbon Vault, Vault 44.01 Ltd. for a potential sequestration hub west of Edson
- Rolling Hills Carbon Sequestration Hub, AltaGas Ltd. and Whitecap Resources Inc. for a potential sequestration hub northwest of Calgary
- Tourmaline Clearwater CCUS, Tourmaline Oil Corp. for a potential sequestration hub south of Edson
Companies will begin exploring how to safely develop carbon storage hubs. If the evaluation demonstrates that the proposed projects can provide permanent storage, companies will be able to apply for the right to inject captured CO2. Only projects that meet Alberta’s rigorous safety and environmental standards will ultimately be approved by the AER.
More information about projects selected in both competitions is available at the online Carbon Sequestration mapping tool. Evaluation agreements allow for proponents to assess the suitability of the location for carbon sequestration. The locations on the map do not necessarily reflect the final location, which will be determined after the assessment is complete. To request a shape file, email: [email protected].
Small-scale and remote scenarios
In addition to developing sequestration hubs, Alberta Energy and Minerals has been engaging with stakeholders to understand what other carbon dioxide storage options are available. Tenure applications from small-scale and remote carbon sequestration proponents for scenarios that may not be met through a hub are now being accepted.
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