Shell just announced that it will go ahead with the first carbon capture and storage (CCS) project for an oil sands operation in Canada. The Quest project will be built on behalf of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project joint venture owners (Shell, Chevron and Marathon Oil) and with support from the Governments of Canada and Alberta.
The Athabasca Oil Sands project produces bitumen, which is piped to Shell's Scotford upgrader near Edmonton. From late 2015, the Quest CCS project will capture more than one million tonnes per year of CO2 from the upgrader and transport it up by an 80 km underground pipeline to a storage site north of the Scotford site. Here, it will inject it more than two kilometres underground into a porous rock formation called the Basal Cambrian Sands (BCS), which is located beneath layers of impermeable rock. Sophisticated monitoring technologies will help ensure the CO2 is permanently stored. In 2011, Quest received the world's first certificate of fitness for its storage development plan from Det Norske Veritas (DNV), an international risk management firm. DNV assembled a panel of seven CCS experts from academia and research institutions to perform the review over a two-week period.
To improve efficiency, up to 50 per cent of project work will be done offsite at a construction yard yet to be selected. Shell will use third-party construction facilities in Edmonton, helping the continuing development of key construction capacity in the province. Large pre-assembled modules will then be delivered to the Shell site for installationQuest will capture and store deep underground more than one million tonnes a year of CO2 produced in bitumen processing. Shell says that Quest will reduce direct emissions from the Scotford Upgrader by up to 35 per cent - the equivalent of taking 175,000 North American cars off the road annually.
Both the Canadian federal and Albertan provincial governments have identified CCS as an important technology in their strategies to reduce CO2 emissions. The Alberta government will invest $745 million in Quest from a $2-billion fund to support CCS, while the Government of Canada will invest $120 million through its Clean Energy Fund.