Shell’s Carbon Capture Project Reaches Milestone, Operating Under Budget
Shell’s Quest carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Alberta, Canada, has captured and stored 1 million metric tons of CO2 after one year of operation, the company said yesterday.
Quest is the first CCS project to reduce carbon emissions from oil sands operations. The C$1.35-billion project received funding from Shell, joint venture owners Chevron Canada Limited and Marathon Oil Canada Corporation, and the governments of Alberta and Canada, which provided C$745 million and C$120 million, respectively.
Quest is designed to capture one-third of the emissions from Shell’s Scotford Upgrader (pictured), which turns oil sands bitumen into synthetic crude that can be refined into fuel and other products. The CO2 is then transported through a 65-kilometer pipeline and injected more than two kilometer underground.
Shell oil sands executive vice president Zoe Yujnovich says the project shows CCS is a viable solution to mitigate climate change and this technology can be applied to other industries to reduce CO2 emissions.
Yujnovich told the Canadian Press that the project is operating ahead of schedule and under budget: “There isn’t a metric that hasn’t finished very strongly in green. I don’t think we can say that about many projects.”
The Quest milestone is significant because the cost and uncertainty of CCS have been two major barriers to making this technology widely available. Capturing and storing CO2 requires massive amounts of eneryg, and that can be very expensive — the cost of electricity can increase by up to 80 percent when applying commercial capture technologies to coal-fired power plant, according to the IEA Clean Coal Center.
Since its inception, Shell and the Canadian government have made all intellectual property and data generated by Quest publicly available in an effort to bring down future costs of CCS and encourage wider use of the technology. This means that other companies can take the detailed engineering plans, valued at C$100 million, to help build future CCS facilities.
“Supportive government policy was essential in getting Quest up and running and will continue to play a vital role in developing large-scale CCS projects globally,” Yujnovich said in a statement. “Together with government, 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 percent to 30 percent less to construct and operate thanks to a variety of factors including capital efficiency improvements and a lower cost environment.”
Shell says one lesson learned is that cost savings could be achieved through joint transportation and storage facilities. For example, another capture facility could be tied into the existing Quest pipeline for CO2 storage.
Operating costs for Quest are also 30 percent less than anticipated, mainly due to lower fixed costs and energy efficiency savings.
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