IEA hails launch of Canadian CO2 storage project, first to cut emissions from oil sands

Shell's Scotford upgrader in Alberta, Canada, where the new Quest CCS project was inaugurated.

Alberta’s Quest project provides further proof of value of CCS in reducing greenhouse gas emissions

7 November 2015

The International Energy Agency (IEA) today welcomed the launch of the world’s first large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) project that will reduce emissions from oil sands processing.

“The launch of the Quest CCS project in Alberta, Canada, is remarkable, as it provides another excellent example of the fact that CCS is about so much more than just coal-fired power,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said. “It can be used in many industrial sectors where no other solutions exist to significantly reduce the CO2 footprint.”

The IEA also pointed to the timeliness of the launch of the project, as momentum builds ahead of the UN climate negotiations (COP21) that start in three weeks. Dr. Birol added: “The launch of a new CCS project is particularly significant ahead of the Paris climate negotiations, as world leaders will be looking to strike a deal for deep emission reductions. Quest provides further proof that CCS is emerging as a real option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The IEA Executive Director also congratulated Canada and the Province of Alberta for their role in making the project a reality: “Getting the Quest project up and running is another great example of how Canada is a leader in CCS,” he said. Canada last year launched the world’s first large-scale power station equipped with CCS technology.

The IEA believes that CCS plays a key role in an ambitious, climate-friendly future energy scenario, accounting for one-sixth of required emissions reductions by 2050. IEA analysis also shows that without significant deployment of CCS, more than two-thirds of current proven fossil-fuel reserves cannot be commercialised before 2050 if the increase in global temperatures is to remain below 2 degrees Celsius.

The Shell Quest project, inaugurated on Friday near Edmonton, captures more than 1 million tonnes per year of CO2 at Shell's Scotford upgrader. The CO2 is transported via a 60-kilometer pipeline to where it will be injected and permanently stored in the Basal Cambrian Sand, a geological formation more than 2 000 meters underground. The Scotford upgrader and the Quest project are part of the 255 000-barrel-per-day Athabasca Oil Sands Project.

The world’s first CCS project, Sleipner, started in Norway in 1996 and continues to operate today, storing nearly 1 million tonnes of CO2 yearly in the North Sea. CCS projects are entering operation, under construction or in advanced stages of planning in Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, bringing the world towards the threshold of 10 million tonnes of CO2 captured and verified as stored every year.

To learn more about IEA work concerning CCS, please click here.

Photo courtesy of Royal Dutch Shell plc via Flickr, all rights reserved.

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