Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) is one of the hot topics du jour in the 2021 Western Canada energy landscape…and with good reason! This article focuses on Alberta, which has industrial carbon dioxide emissions that would be good to capture, and a number of viable targets that could store said emissions. Storage targets include depleted gas reservoirs, deep saline aquifers, and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) schemes in oil reservoirs.
In 2018, AB produced 144.9 MM tonnes (Mt) of CO2 from fixed industrial sources (Hares, 2020). Figure 1 shows industrial emissions sources and the currently active CO2 storage projects in AB. The large dots depict the sources that emit over 1 Mt per year, and are coloured by industry. Apart from the oil sands, most of the large emitters are in the Calgary-Edmonton-Industrial Heartland corridor, most of which is conveniently located close to numerous storage targets including the Leduc reefs.
Alberta has four active CO2 storage projects (figure 1), which combined can currently store up to 2.95 Mt per year. Figures 2 and 3 show the cumulative amount of CO2 stored and the monthly injection rates per project. Table 1 summarizes CO2 storage metrics for the four projects. The Enhance EOR project at Clive is the latest to come online. CO2 is transported from the NWR Sturgeon Refinery and Nutrien fertilizer facility via the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line to the Clive Field. It is injected into a Leduc reef to produce an incremental 1 billion bbls of oil, which is 20–25% of the original oil-in-place. At present up to 1.7 Mt per year of CO2 can be injected (Enhance, 2021). Win-win! Shell’s Quest project at Thorhild/Radway, which stores CO2 emitted from the Scotford Upgrader near Fort Saskatchewan, began operations in 2015. The target zone is the Basal Cambrian sandstone. About 1.1 Mt tonnes can be stored per year (AB Govt, 2021). The Joffre and Chigwell EOR projects have been operational for years. Both schemes target the Viking Sandstone. The Joffre scheme, which began CO2 injection in 1985, is operated by Whitecap—who also operates the long-running Weyburn, SK EOR project. The Chigwell scheme, which began CO2 injection in December 2005, is now operated by Alphabow.
In 2020, AB stored about 2.1 Mt of CO2; with the Clive project fully operational, that increases to 3.1 Mt per year—which represents about 2.1% of AB’s 2018 industrial emissions (144.9 Mt). There are theoretically still “tonnes” of reservoirs that may be suitable for storage and for EOR schemes. In 2020, CDL developed a workflow to determine the suitability of gas and oil pools for storage and EOR while working with a major E&P company.
Alberta Government website. 2021. https://www.alberta.ca/carbon-capture-and-storage.aspx#:~:text=Alberta%20has%20committed%20%241.24%20billion,2.76%20million%20tonnes%20each%20year. Accessed March 2021.
Enhance Energy. 2021. https://enhanceenergy.com/. Accessed March 2021.
Hares, R. 2020. Feasibility of CCUS to CO2-EOR in Alberta (unpublished Master’s project). Downloaded from PRISM: https://prism.ucalgary.ca. March 2021.