This is what the strata under the Aquistore well looks like, 3,400 metres deep. PTRC

 

Pipeline Online welcomes voices from through the Saskatchewan energy industry. The Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) has been an integral part for over two decades. This is the inaugural column by Ranjith (Ran) Narayanasamy, who recently joined the PTRC as president and CEO.

 

The announcement this Monday by the Government of Canada that it would like the electricity and oil & gas sectors to dramatically curb emission by 2030 (40 to 45 per cent reduction from 2005 levels) is both daunting for those industries and, for the PTRC, an astonishing opportunity.

Oil and gas, along with many large set-point emitters, are being encouraged to make deep and rapid cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions through tax credit incentives for CO2 storage that will be set out in the upcoming federal budget. New sources indicate that $9.1 billion dollars has been designated for advancing various emissions reduction efforts.

The PTRC has been a world-leader for over two decades in the development of CO2 capture, utilization and storage projects (CCUS). The accumulated knowledge and expertise we have – first from the Weyburn and Midale CO2-EOR project and most recently with the Aquistore CO2 deep saline storage project – positions us well for assisting industries across Canada and beyond. We are able to direct the development of storage hubs, create measurement, monitoring and verification programs to assure effective accounting of stored CO2, and help large set-point emitters develop their CCS projects from source through to transport and permanent sequestration.

The tax incentive program for CCS about to be unrolled has precedence in the United States, where 45Q has motivated sectors as diverse as oil and gas, power, cement and steel to look at capturing their emissions. 45Q offers tax breaks of 35 dollars a tonne for CO2 utilized for EOR, and 50 dollars a tonne for permanent storage. It will be interesting to see the details on the Government of Canada’s incentive plan. While some remain critical of such incentives – seeing them as encouraging the further exploitation of hydrocarbon resources – it is very important to note that CCS is applicable across many different CO2-emitting industries.

To meet an aggressive plan of 45 per cent below 2005 emissions by 2030, there are few other options for the maintenance of jobs and economic activities in resource-rich regions of Canada except capture and storage.

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I would also like to note that PTRC continues to expand its focus for research and development into areas of energy efficiency and emissions reduction that fit the overall mix of technologies that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says is critical to reach reduction targets.  One of our recent webinars looked at Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) in salt caverns as a means of providing baseload for renewable energy sources (see: Compressed Air Energy Storage and Wind: Cost competitive low carbon energy | Zoom Webinar Recording – YouTube).

We have also been examining the recycling of stored CO2 at Aquistore as a vehicle for the movement of heat to surface for geothermal electricity production. Most recently, we began work with an indigenous-led company – Evolution Growers – and the University of Regina to examine geothermal sources and an integrated energy system that could see the development of net-zero vegetables and produce right here in Saskatchewan.

PTRC has a rich network of research advisors and collaborations that make taking the lead in Canada’s CCUS initiative obvious. Our Science and Engineering Research Committee for the Aquistore project includes leading experts globally on storage site characterization, risk assessment and subsurface imaging. We have members on that same committee from the Geological Survey of Canada, and Universities of Saskatchewan and Alberta, from SaskPower and international groups like Australian National Low Emission Coal R&D. We work closely with our colleagues at the International CCS Knowledge Centre here in Regina, and with Carbon Management Canada in Calgary, to extend Canadian expertise around the world, and have a project consulting with European Union partners.

Over the past 22 years PTRC has played a key role in assuring that the over 41 million tonnes of CO2 stored in the Weyburn and Midale oil fields, and at the Aquistore deep saline project, are safely and securely stored. We have seen our researchers publish hundreds of academically reviewed papers; we have published a best practices manual to help other jurisdictions plan for CO2 storage; and we’ve consulted with multiple governments, agencies and companies on CCUS. We are involved with the development of storage hub locations in both Alberta – near Edmonton – and here in the south of Saskatchewan with both Whitecap and the Federated Co-op Refinery.

Companies interested in CCS development – particularly in storage, project risk assessment, site characterization and monitoring — contact us.  If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about our initiatives shoot us an email:  info@ptrc.ca. And visit us at https://ptrc.ca, on LinkedIn or follow us on twitter: @ptrc_sk.

 

Ranjith (Ran) Narayanasamy is president and CEO of the Petroleum Technology Research Centre.

 

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