Shell kicks off operation of CCS system at bitumen processing facility in Canada

Oil producer Shell on Nov. 6 celebrated the official opening of the Quest carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Alberta, Canada, and the start of commercial operations there.

The Quest project is designed to capture and safely store more than one million tonnes of CO2 each year. Quest was made possible through strong collaboration between the public and private sectors aimed at advancing CCS globally.

As part of its funding arrangements, Shell is publicly sharing information on Quest’s design and processes to further global adoption of CCS. Quest draws on techniques used by the energy industry for decades and integrates the components of CCS for the large-scale capture, transport and storage of CO2. CCS is one of the only technologies that can significantly reduce carbon emissions from industrial sectors of the economy, Shell noted.

Quest will capture one-third of the emissions from Shell’s Scotford Upgrader, which turns oil sands bitumen into synthetic crude that can be refined into fuel and other products. The CO2 is then transported through a 65-kilometer pipeline and injected more than two kilometers underground below multiple layers of impermeable rock formations. Quest is now operating at commercial scale after successful testing earlier this year, during which it captured and stored more than 200,000 tonnes of CO2.

Quest was built on behalf of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project joint-venture owners Shell Canada Energy (60%), Chevron Canada Ltd. (20%) and Marathon Oil Canada Corp. (20%), and was made possible through strong support from the governments of Alberta and Canada who provided C$865 million in funding.

Collaboration is continuing through Quest between Shell and various parties in an effort to bring down costs of future CCS projects globally. This includes cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy and the British government on research at the Quest site.

Shell noted that CCS technology can be applied to reduce CO2 emissions across a wide range of industrial sectors, including power generation, cement, chemicals and refining, iron and steel and upgraders. The governments of Alberta and Canada contributed C$745 million and C$120 million respectively to Quest.

Shell is involved in a slate of CCS projects worldwide. The proposed Peterhead CCS project in the United Kingdom, currently in the design stage, is part of the United Kingdom government’s CCS Commercialisation Programme (subject to investor approval and the securing of relevant permits). Shell is also a partner in the Chevron-led Gorgon project in Australia and has a share in the Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) in Norway.

CCS technology developed by Shell subsidiary Cansolv is in use at the commercial-scale Boundary Dam CCS project in Saskatchewan, Canada, which opened in 2014. That CCS project, installed on a coal-fired unit at the Boundary Dam plant, has lately been engulfed in controversy because it has not operated as successfully in its early stages as utility SaskPower had indicated.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.