SHELL Canada says its Quest carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in the Canadian oil sands has captured and stored 1m t of CO2 2 km underground within its first year of operation.
The US$1.02bn project began operating in November 2015, capturing about a third of the emissions from Shell’s Scotford Upgrader in Alberta. Shell says that the project has been “working better than planned”, exceeding its target of 1m t/y – equivalent to the annual emissions of 250,000 cars – and that the porous rocks of the subsurface reservoir is proving “ideal” for long-term CO2 storage.
The company reports that the capture facility has had less than 1% unplanned downtime, and operating costs are also 30% less than anticipated, due to lower fixed costs and energy efficiency savings.
Quest was built by the Athabasca Oil Sands Project joint venture, which includes partners Shell (60%), Chevron (20%) and Marathon Oil (20%). Additional support came from the Alberta and Canadian governments, at US$564m and US$91m respectively.
As part of the government collaboration, all of the intellectual property and data gathered from the project has been made publicly available from the outset, in order to bring down the future cost of CCS and encourage wider use of the technology. Shell says the engineering plans, valued at US$75.7m, will help build future CCS plants.
Zoe Yujnovich, executive vice president for oil sands at Shell, said: “We are sharing lessons learned through Quest to help bring down future costs of CCS globally. If Quest was built again today, we estimate that it would cost 20–30% less to construct and operate.”
One of those lessons was realising how cost savings could be achieved through joint transportation and storage facilities. Shell said another capture facility could be tied into the existing pipeline for CO2 storage.
In November 2015, the UK government dropped a £1bn (US$1.3bn) CCS competition. Since then, the UK has been working on how to deliver cheaper CCS before the cost of inaction rises. Last month, UK industrial partners from the Teesside Collective issued its first tender for a 2.8m t/y of CO2 CCS pilot plant.
In July, the US Department of Energy announced US$68.4m of funding to determine the feasibility for a 50m+ t/y of CO2 commercial CCS project.
There are currently 15 large-scale CCS projects operating globally, with a further seven under construction. The Global CCS Institute says the total capture capacity for the 22 projects will be around 40m t/y CO2.
Catch up on the latest news, views and jobs from The Chemical Engineer. Below are the four latest issues. View a wider selection of the archive from within the Magazine section of this site.