Shell launches carbon-capture project

L to R: Alberta Minister of Energy Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, Shell Canada President and Country Chair Lorraine Mitchelmore, Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, Marathon Oil Canada President Brian Maynard and Chevron Canada President Jeff Gustavson turn the valve as British High Commissioner to Canada Howard Drake applauds at the Quest project’s official launch ceremony at the Shell Scotford site on Nov. 6, 2015. (Photo by Omar Mosleh)

Shell Scotford officially embarked on their quest to reduce carbon emissions at the Quest Carbon Capture & Storage Start-Up Celebration on Nov. 6.

The Quest carbon-capture project will capture one million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually from Shell Scotford’s bitumen upgrader, located about 15 kilometres northeast of Fort Saskatchewan, and deposit it two kilometres underground in liquid form.

The Quest carbon capture and storage (CCS) project is the first of its kind in the oil sands region and Shell’s first on a commercial scale. The Government of Alberta contributed $740 million while the federal government contributed $120 million toward the $1.3 billion project, with the rest covered by Shell and its partners Chevron and Marathon Oil Canada.

Shell Canada President and Country Chair Lorraine Mitchelmore was on hand for the valve-turning ceremony and said the one million tonnes of CO2 captured annually represents one-third of the Scotford upgrader’s annual emissions.

“In this century we’ll have to figure how to produce more energy with less carbon … Building carbon capture storage is one of the immediate actions we are taking today to address climate change,” she said.

She said that by 2050, CCS systems have the potential to deliver 17 per cent of the world’s required CO2 reduction, according to the International Energy Agency.

“If we are to really make a difference here in making the energy sector competitive environmentally and economically, we need to invest in technologies like this and share these globally,” she added.

The Quest project is seen as a trailblazer in the energy industry and many international NGOs and stakeholders were in attendance.

British High Commissioner to Canada Howard Drake said he attended the event to “show the world that carbon capture can happen and it’s a force that can reduce emissions.”

“I would just like to offer my congratulations to Shell Canada and in particular the Government of Alberta … it’s a remarkable vision,” he said.

Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden called Quest a “true milestone” and thanked the provincial and federal governments for their support.

He said while renewable forms of energy will dominate the future, it won’t happen overnight.

“The world will need hydrocarbons for decades to come  … this is why Quest and CSS are so important. It’s a key technology in the transition to a low-carbon future and in the fight against climate change,” he added.

Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Gale Katchur, who also serves as vice-chair the Alberta’s Industrial Heartland organization, said the project is great news for Fort Saskatchewan as it attracts more international attention to the city and its local industry.

“I think every time we’ve got a company looking at cleaner, more environmentally-friendly projects, it allows more companies to come to Alberta’s Industrial Heartland because we do have good environmental guidelines,” Katchur said.  “And it proves to the government and to the world that this is the place to invest.”

Alberta Minister of Energy Margaret McCuaig-Boyd said she was impressed by the project but pointed out that a previous government had committed the funds.

She said the provincial government would not commit to any more projects like Quest until further notice.

“Right now we’ve got other challenges with our budget as we get back on track. And I think it’s prudent to wait for the climate change plan,” she said.  She added that the provincial NDP looked into the cost of stopping the project and found it would be too costly.  She said Shell has “lots of safeguards” and has done extensive testing to ensure the project works as it should.

Quest has enough capacity to capture one million tonnes of CO2 annually for at least 25 years and possibly beyond that. Van Beurden said Shell hopes to replicate projects like Quest across the globe.

“Canada is one of the pivotal pioneers here … the world is watching and is keen to learn from this Canadian experience.”

~Originally published in the Fort Saskatchewan Record

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