Shell has said it wants to build a large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) project at its Scotford Complex near Edmonton, Canada, as part of a key step in providing customers with lower-carbon fuels.

Unveiling the plans for the proposed Polaris CCS project on Tuesday (13th July), the oil and gas major said the development will capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from its Scotford refinery and chemicals plant.

According to project plans, the initial phase is expected to start operations around the middle of the decade, subject to a final investment decision by Shell expected in 2023.

Commenting on the news, Susannah Pierce, Shell Canada President and Country Chair, said, “Shell is making bold moves to decarbonise our operations, and wider industry, and the Polaris CCS project is the latest example.”

“Our plans for Scotford are in line with Shell’s target to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society. We are creating a world-class site that will provide customers with lower-carbon fuels, products and CO2 storage.”

“Polaris would also make a significant contribution to Shell’s aim to have access to an additional 25 million tonnes a year of CCS capacity by 2035.”

During the initial phase of the Polaris CCS project Shell wants to capture and store approximately 750,000 tonnes a year of CO2 from the Scotford plant. During this time, it would reduce Shell’s direct and indirect emissions by up to 40% from the refinery and by up to 30% from the chemicals plant. It would also create up to 2,000 jobs.

The second phase of the Polaris CCS project involves the creation of a CO2 storage hub in Alberta, further decarbonising Shell’s facilities and storing emissions on behalf of third-party industry sources as a trusted and reliable CO2 storage operator.

Fully built, and contingent on acquiring pore space leases from the Province of Alberta, Polaris could serve as a CO2 storage hub for more than 10 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

Further to that, Polaris would contribute to the Edmonton region becoming Canada’s first hydrogen hub. In the initial phase of Polaris, CO2 captured from the refinery’s hydrogen plants would produce blue hydrogen for use in the refining process, with the potential for large-scale blue hydrogen production in future phases.

Shell is also exploring the development of additional volumes of blue and green hydrogen at Scotford that leverage Alberta’s abundance of natural gas and availability of renewable sources of power.

The Polaris CCS project follows the success of the Quest CCS facility at Scotford, which has captured and safely stored more than six million tonnes of CO2 in its six years of operation.

Welcoming Shell’s planned development, Sonya Savage, Alberta Minister of Energy, said, “Our government is committed to developing CCUS to help reduce emissions and capitalise on emerging economic opportunities.” 

“Projects like Shell’s Polaris CCS show that Alberta is open for business and our oil and gas industry confidently looks to be a global player in a low-carbon future.” 

Shell believes that the Polaris project would have storage capacity of about 300 million tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime.