Basal Cambrian Sands
The Shell-led Quest project in Alberta, Canada, is the first commercial-scale CCS project to tackle emissions from oil sands extraction. It aims to capture and store up to 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 per year from the Scotford Upgrader, the facility at Fort Saskatchewan which produces synthetic crude oil from bitumen derived from the Athabasca Oil Sands extraction project.
Quest is a fully-integrated CCS project that will capture, transport, inject and store CO2. It was proposed by Shell on behalf of the Athabasca Oil Sands project − a joint venture between Shell Canada, Chevron Canada and Marathon Oil.
The project had an official launch and start up in the beginning of November 2015, and is now fully operational after approximately three years of construction.
Shell announced in September 2012 that a final investment decision had been made and that the project, having received essential federal and provincial regulatory approvals, had begun construction. It was announced the same month that Fluor would provide EPC services to the project. Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board had announced its approval for the project in July 2012, and noted the suitability of the proposed reservoir storage site.
The project reached a milestone in March 2012 with the release of a federal environment assessment, which concluded that the company had planned appropriate measures for mitigating any adverse environmental effects. A one-month public comment period was held.
Shell previously filed for approvals from Alberta's Energy Resources Conservation Board on 2 August 2011, the first application the province has received for a commercial-scale CCS project. An environmental impact assessment had already been carried out as part of another application in November 2010, led by the state’s environmental body, Alberta Environment. Key stakeholders already consulted include local communities, landowners, government departments and agencies, and NGOs.
Technology and infrastructure
Using amine solvents, the facility will capture up to 35% of CO2 emissions from the upgrader’s steam methane units, which produce hydrogen for upgrading bitumen. The gas will then be dehydrated and compressed before transport via an 84-kilometre long, 12-inch diameter pipeline. The route of the pipeline was determined by safety and technical issues, environmental impact and landowner consent.
In June 2011, Shell signed official agreements for part-funding of C$745 million from the Alberta government’s $2-billion CCS fund and C$120 million from the federal government’s CCS fund - funding awards that were made in October 2009. The total cost of the project is estimated at $1.35 billion. Shell also negotiated a two-for-one carbon credit deal with the province, which will help the company balance the higher cost of CCS against the $15 per tonne carbon price.
The Quest venture commissioning and injection is beginning in the last quarter of 2015. In May 2011, Shell filed for its carbon sequestration lease. Construction began in September 2012, when Fluor was announced EPC contractor to the project.
In March 2012, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency sought public comment for a report on the project. The Energy Resources Conservation Board announced its approval for the project in July 2012, stating it was "in the public interest".
Shell announced an expansion of its oil sands operations at Athabasca in September 2010. Find out more here.
More information and press releases
Quest Completes Letter of Intent, Oct 2009
In late 2008 and early 2009, Shell drilled two test wells near the Scotford Upgrader as part of a CCS appraisal programme – co-funded by the Alberta Energy Research Institute (now part of Alberta Innovates) – to help determine locations for storage sites.
The preferred site is about 84 kilometres north-east of Fort Saskatchewan in deep geological formations, known as the Basal Cambrian Sands. Impermeable shale and salt-sealing rocks above the storage formation would securely and permanently trap the injected CO2 two kilometres below ground.
Captured CO2 from the Scotford Upgrader may also be used commercially in enhanced oil recovery projects.