Shell has celebrated the official opening of the Quest carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Alberta, Canada, and the start of commercial operations.
Quest is designed to capture and safely store more than one million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year – equal to the emissions from about 250,000 cars.
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 65km pipeline and injected more than 2km 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.
Speaking at the official opening, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said, “Quest represents a significant milestone in the successful design, construction and use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology on a commercial scale. Quest is a blueprint for future CCS projects globally.”
“Together with government and joint-venture partners, we are sharing the know-how to help make CCS technologies more accessible and cost-effective for the energy industry and other key industrial sectors of the economy.”
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.
Quest was made possible through strong collaboration between the public and private sectors aimed at advancing CCS globally.
Quest was built on behalf of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project joint-venture owners Shell Canada Energy (60%), Chevron Canada Limited (20%) and Marathon Oil Canada Corporation (20%), and was made possible through strong support from the governments of Alberta and Canada, who provided C$865m in funding.
Fluor Corporation completed the construction of the project – near Fort Saskatchewan – using its proprietary 3rd Gen Modular ExecutionSM approach; Fluor designed and built the facility using 69 separate interlocking modules that were assembled at the jobsite.
Fluor’s 3rd Gen Modular Execution platform optimises work at site in order to reduce costs, improve safety, enhance worker productivity and quality assurance and reduce the overall environmental footprint.
Shell notes that 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 US Department of Energy, and the British government on research at the Quest site.
Meanwhile, the launch of the Quest project has been hailed by Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS) as a ‘key milestone’ on the path to a low-carbon future.
The official opening of the project comes in the same week as publication of the Global CCS Institute’s (GCCSI) new report highlighting the vital role of the technology in ‘bridging the gap’ between international commitments to tackling climate change and the actions that could keep global warming to within 2°C.
The Quest project joins the ranks of 15 operational projects – on gas production, power and industry – that together will have captured up to 28 million tonnes of CO2 this year.
Professor Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director, said, “Last month, we helped deliver an open letter to the UNFCCC from an international group of scientists, who gave reassurance that the geological storage of CO2 is both safe and secure. Projects such as Quest, and those currently under construction, will show that the full chain of CCS technologies is available and deliverable now.”
Speaking from the launch of Shell’s Quest project, GCCSI CEO Brad Page said the substantial gap between international climate commitments and what scientists say is needed means all available technologies must be used. He explained, “If the world is serious about tackling the reality of climate change, we have to make full use of all available technology options – and especially CCS.”
“It is vital that we share the knowledge and learnings highlighted by these trail-blazing CCS projects and apply them to projects in operation, projects currently being built, and projects at the earliest stages of assessment. These major projects show CCS is a proven technology that is reducing CO2 emissions by millions of tonnes in different countries around the world.”