“We are helping to advance CCS technology on a number of fronts around the world, but Quest will be our flagship project.”
is CEO of Royal Dutch Shell
Canada’s energy sector is tackling the oil sands sustainability challenge head-on.
Far from shying away from concerns about responsible, sustainable growth, companies are finding ways, through research and development, to factor environmental concerns into every decision made.
And this has not gone unnoticed by Ed Whittingham, executive director of the Pembina Institute, a Canadian non-profit environmental organization.
“It’s clear that industry is working hard to drive down the environmental impact of our oil sands production on a per-barrel basis,” says Mr. Whittingham.
An example of how new sustainable strategies are being implemented was demonstrated by a recent announcement by Royal Dutch Shell plc that it would construct the world’s first oil sands carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Alberta.
The project, called Quest, will strip out up to 35 per cent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by the Scotford Upgrader, near Edmonton, partially liquidate it through compression and cooling, then send it by pipeline 80 kilometres to be injected underground into an impermeable basal Cambrian sands formation, Shell says.
Designed to capture more than one million tonnes of CO2 per year from the upgrader, the environmental impact of the project will be substantial, the equivalent of taking 175,000 cars off the road, Shell says.
Peter Voser, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, says CCS technology is critical to meeting the huge projected increase in global energy demand, while reducing CO2 emissions.
“If you want to achieve climate-change goals, CCS has to be part of the solution,” he says. “We are helping to advance CCS technology on a number of fronts around the world, but Quest will be our flagship project.”
Quest will be financed with $745 million from the Alberta government over 10 years and $120 million from Ottawa’s Clean Energy Fund, with the rest shared proportionately by the partners in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project: operator Shell Canada at 60 per cent, and Chevron Canada and Marathon Oil at 20 per cent each, according to a media report.
Imperial Oil, an integrated energy company, focuses on technologies that reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, “minimizing our footprint, reclaiming land that we disturb,” the company says. “All of our businesses are managed by the same principles of responsible development.”
Mr. Whittingham says it is critically important to aim for responsible oil sands development.
“There is a general understanding of the ecological importance of the area, and getting it right is so important for economic development. If we don’t get it right, we’re going to lose our access to the markets, those places where we can sell our products.”