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Alberta is among the global leaders in carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), and continues to advance this technology to help our province capitalize on emerging opportunities and reduce emissions in industries across the energy sector. Developing carbon storage will help diversify the energy sector, including developing clean hydrogen and supporting the shift towards a net-zero electricity grid.
Demand for this technology from industry is increasing. For example, the oil sands producers’ Pathways Alliance has committed to carbon neutrality by 2050. The alliance is focusing on innovation and technology – such as CCUS – to reach its goal. Other examples include:
- Capital Power’s plan to apply CCS technology at the Genesee 1 and 2 plants
- Dow’s plan to incorporate this technology into the expansion of their petrochemical complex near Edmonton
- Air Products net zero hydrogen complex, which will capture 95% of the carbon which will then be transported and safely stored underground
To help manage the growth of this technology, Alberta is allocating 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 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.
Ensuring public and environmental safety
Alberta has been using carbon storage on a commercial scale since 2015. In fact, the Quest and Alberta Carbon Trunk Line projects have safely captured and stored a total of more than 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide since starting operations. The Alberta government remains committed to ensuring public and environmental safety as we advance this technology in the province.
Located in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, Alberta has the ideal geology for storing carbon. Rock formations that have securely stored oil and gas for millions of years can also safely store carbon dioxide permanently. Captured carbon dioxide from large-scale projects is stored deep below the earth’s surface, typically more than 1 km underground.
CCUS is a safe and proven technology that is deployed in several other jurisdictions in world, including Saskatchewan, the United States and Norway.
Research demonstrates that various geological trapping mechanisms will contain the carbon dioxide deep underground. Careful site selection and rigorous monitoring serve to ensure the injected carbon dioxide remains sequestered and does not have any impact on fresh water, plants, or the soil.
Read the energy fact sheet (PDF, 388 KB) for more information on the safety of carbon capture and storage.
Approval process for developing carbon 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 carbon dioxide. 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 land owners, 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.
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., ATCO Energy Solutions Ltd., and Suncor Energy Inc. 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 carbon dioxide. 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 19 proposals to begin exploring how to safely develop carbon storage hubs across Alberta. They are:
- 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
- The Grande Prairie CCS Hub, Enhance Energy Inc. for a potential sequestration hub northeast of Grande Prairie
- 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 carbon dioxide. 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, please email: [email protected].
The Alberta government will continue to engage with stakeholders to understand and work to address various carbon sequestration scenarios, including small scale and remote opportunities. Based on this work, future RFPPs may be considered at a later date.
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