Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas (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, permanent storage.
Alberta has committed $1.24 billion through 2025 to two commercial-scale carbon capture, utilization and storage projects. Both projects will help reduce the CO2 emissions from the oil sands and fertilizer sectors and reduce GHG emissions by up to 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 to ensure public access to the technical information and project learnings.
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.
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), and
- 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.
Guidelines for items to be addressed in a monitoring, measurement and verification plan for a CCS project can be found in the Monitoring, Measurement and Verification Principles and Objectives document.
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)
- Mines and Minerals Act, as amended by the 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; further information on the Fund can be found in the Alberta Energy Annual Report. 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. The Carbon Capture and Storage Statutes Amendment Act, 2010, also amended the Surface Rights Act, Public Lands Act and the Oil and Gas Conservation Act.
- Carbon Sequestration Tenure Regulation
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.
Carbon Sequestration Tenure
Moving forward, government is preparing to issue carbon sequestration rights through a competitive process, enabling the development of carbon storage hubs. More details are available at the links below.
CCS beyond Alberta
- 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 CCUS 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.
- International CCS Knowledge Centre
The International CCS Knowledge Centre, based out of Regina, SK, is focused on large-scale applications of CCS on industrial applications and thermal power plants while optimizing the use of CCS through cost reduction initiatives and technological advancements.
- International Energy Agency (IEA)
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is made up of 30 member countries and 8 association countries and has extensive information regarding CCUS.
- National Energy Technology Laboratory
The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is driving innovation that will help enable a carbon-free power sector by 2035 and a net-zero carbon emissions economy by 2050. The Carbon Storage Program at NETL is focused on developing and advancing technologies to enable safe, cost-effective, permanent geological storage of CO2.
- Norway - Ministry of Petroleum and Energy - CCS
CCS is a central part of the Norwegian government’s policy on energy and climate change.
- Petroleum Technology Research Centre
The Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) specializes in CO2 storage, monitoring and verification and is a sister organization to the International CCS Knowledge Centre based out of Regina, SK. The PTRC managed the International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas (IEAGHG) Weyburn-Midale CO2 Monitoring and Storage Project from 2000-2015, which has stored over 42 million tonnes of CO2 in the 2 oilfields, and the Aquistore project is currently storing CO2 from SaskPower’s Boundary Dam project in the Deadwood Formation.
- 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
Founded in 2012, the UK CCS Research Centre, with 300+ academic members, collaborates with CCS organizations world-wide on CCS research.
Connect with Carbon Capture and Storage:
Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Email: [email protected]
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