In September, Shell Canada announced that it had successfully stored its first 1M tonnes of carbon in the ground. Here is a Q&A with Tim Wiwchar, the project manager that helped make it happen.
What's the big deal with the Quest project?
TW: "Quest is the world’s first large-scale carbon capture and storage project to tackle carbon dioxide emissions in the oil sands. In its first year operating, the project has captured and safely stored one million tonnes of CO2 ahead of schedule and under budget. To put that amount into context, it’s equal to the annual emissions from about 250,000 cars. The technology is applicable to many global industries including steel, cement, chemicals and power generation."
What did it take for this project to move from the research and development stage through to successful implementation?
TW: "Two things stand out. First, to enable the project, the Government of Alberta had to both amend existing and create new legal and regulatory frameworks for the capture and storage of CO2. As an example, before the Quest project, there was no method to acquire the subsurface rights to sequester CO2 in Alberta. And second, smart construction was key given the heated labour market at the time of fabrication and construction. Modular design allowed us to build on a relatively small plot and to assemble the units offsite, considerably limiting the amount of onsite construction hours."
Describe the key partnerships and collaborations that helped bring this project to fruition?
TW: "Quest was made possible through strong support from the governments of Alberta and Canada who provided C$745 million and C$120 million, respectively, of the originally estimated total cost of $1.35 billion. The list of others who collaborated on the project is long, ranging from researchers at several Canadian universities through to the U.S. Department of Energy and international risk management firm Det Norske Veritas which did assurance on our storage and monitoring plans."
With 1M tonnes of CO2 successfully captured and stored, what’s next for the Quest project?
TW: “We will continue to share knowledge and lessons learned by hosting international delegations at Quest and by collaborating with others to improve the technology. Of the world’s 22 large-scale carbon capture projects, nearly a fifth are in Canada. It’s exciting that through sharing lessons from these projects we could help make similar subsequent plants 20-30 per cent cheaper to build and operate.”
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