Government is investing $10 million into three projects through the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) system which came into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
This includes allocating $3 million to the Sundre Petroleum Operators Group (SPOG) to test the viability of methane emissions reduction technology. Improvements could enhance the accuracy of finding methane emission leaks at a lower cost.
Government is also supporting the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) with a $5-million grant to develop artificial intelligence capabilities that could help companies identify emission reductions opportunities.
Additionally, government is contributing $2 million to the Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada (PTAC) to conduct applied research that could improve oil and gas sector methane emission management and control, while also reducing costs to industry. Alberta’s methane reduction target is to reduce methane emissions from upstream oil and gas operations by 45 per cent (relative to 2014 levels) by 2025.
“Last year, when we introduced TIER, we said we would help job creators reduce their emissions by making investments in technology and research. Today’s announcement is an example of that, and helps further our position as a global leader in technology-driven environmentally responsible development. These programs will help industry identify, track, measure and ultimately reduce emissions. They will also ensure we maintain our competitive edge while creating jobs and economic growth for Alberta.”
SPOG – Methane Emissions Management Program
The Methane Emission Management Program, developed by SPOG in partnership with a number of industry associations and individual operators, is a pilot program that will be deployed on about 500 facilities in the Sundre area. This area was selected due to the high density of sites, but innovative solutions will be shared with operators throughout the province.
“SPOG is a grassroots not-for-profit organization that has responded to the interests and concerns of the residents, landowners, and industry operators regarding energy resource development for almost 30 years. We are very excited to facilitate our Methane Emission Management Pilot that supports industry’s drive to reduce their environmental footprint in a cost-effective and collaborative approach. In partnership with our SPOG producer members, we are striving to test the latest available technologies in detection and provide science-based solutions for methane emissions.”
AMii – Machine Intelligence
Amii is delivering the Reducing Emissions through Machine Intelligence project to help Alberta companies identify key opportunities for emission reductions by providing technical advice. The aim of the project is to have Alberta businesses reduce their overall emissions and increase their knowledge and capabilities in the application of artificial intelligence for emissions reduction. Amii, which is one of Canada’s three artificial intelligence institutes and a global leader in the field, is currently working with companies from across the province and around the world to increase the productivity of our industries and attract investment to Alberta.
“We work with companies at all stages of technology adoption to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and build their internal AI capacity. We look forward to leveraging our resources, knowledge and community to advance the work of companies seeking to reduce emissions. The REMI project is an opportunity for Amii to contribute significantly to innovations that create a competitive advantage for companies that play a vital role in our province’s economic success.”
PTAC – Collaborative Research
PTAC funding will be combined with almost $1 million from non-government funds. PTAC is a Calgary-based, non-profit organization established to facilitate innovation, technology transformation and collaborative research to support responsible development of Canada’s hydrocarbon energy resources. PTAC has worked with industry, the Alberta Energy Regulator and government to identify 10 research projects to support cost-effective oil and gas emission reductions. These highly technical and innovative projects range from improved understanding of methane leaks from abandoned wells to new measures to prevent future leaks at wells and facilities.
"The TIER funds will allow PTAC to launch new projects to build on our previous work focused on methane leak detection, quantification, and repair. These projects exemplify the benefits of collaboration among the Government of Alberta, the Alberta Energy Regulator, and industry; they will also be aligned with our mutual objectives of finding cost-effective approaches to meet the 2025 methane emissions reduction target. In addition, these projects support smart policies and regulations, create clean tech jobs, and support red tape reduction."
TIER is an improved way to manage emissions from large industries like oil sands operations and electricity producers, which account for about 65 per cent of Alberta's total greenhouse gas emissions. The system encourages industrial facilities to find innovative ways to reduce emissions and invest in clean technology to stay competitive. While TIER protects large industrial emitters and opted-in small oil and gas operators, regulated facilities can comply with the regulation by paying $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted. This is allocated to a TIER compliance fund which is then used to fund projects to reduce emissions.
Alberta’s Recovery Plan is a bold, ambitious long-term strategy to build, diversify, and create tens of thousands of jobs now. By building schools, roads and other core infrastructure we are benefiting our communities. By diversifying our economy and attracting investment with Canada’s most competitive tax environment, we are putting Alberta on a path for a generation of growth. Alberta came together to save lives by flattening the curve and now we must do the same to save livelihoods, grow and thrive.