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Quest carbon capture & storage project

The Quest Carbon Capture and Storage Project will reduce CO2 emissions from Shell’s oil sands operations by more than one million tonnes a year by capturing CO2 from its Scotford upgrader and permanently storing it deep underground.

The Quest – More Energy with Less CO2

Industrial carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions contribute to climate change. Using existing technologies in innovative ways can help to reduce the impact by capturing CO2 and storing it safely underground. In Canada, Shell is demonstrating how large-scale CO2 emissions can be managed through the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS).

CCS is critical to meeting the world’s need to limit carbon dioxide emissions and minimize the effects of climate change. CCS is currently the only technology available to mitigate large-scale industrial emissions from fossil fuel use. The International Energy Agency (IEA) believes CCS could provide as much as one-sixth of the world’s CO2 emissions reductions by 2050; it further estimates the cost of tackling climate change will be 40 per cent higher without CCS.

Quest, Shell’s flagship carbon capture and storage (CCS) project, is designed to capture and permanently store more than 1 million tonnes of CO2 each year – the equivalent to the emissions from about 250,000 cars – from the Scotford Upgrader. That equals one-third of the emissions from the upgrader, which turns oil sands bitumen into synthetic crude.

The governments of Alberta and Canada have invested significantly in Quest, contributing CAD$740M and CAD$120M, respectively. Effective government support and robust regulatory frameworks will continue to be critical to accelerating the momentum of CCS implementation worldwide.

Shell is sharing information online about Quest’s design, processes and lessons learned to help make CCS technologies more accessible and drive down costs of future projects. This is part of Quest’s funding arrangements with government. 

Discover more about CCS

The three component technologies of CCS are:

  • carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction from process gas streams;
  • pipeline transportation, and;
  • injection of CO2 into a deep geological formation.

Each of these technologies has been used for decades. Quest combines them in an innovative way to manage CO2 emissions from the Upgrading process. 


Shell has decades of experience in understanding subsurface reservoirs, rock properties and the ways in which gases are transported and stored. Alberta is considered one of the world’s most suitable locations for safe CO2 storage.

The deep Basal Cambrian Sandstone formation underlying large parts of Alberta is considered particularly ideal for CO2 storage because of its more than 2-km depth and multiple overlying layers of impermeable rock formations that act as regional seals.

Several parameters were considered in selecting the Quest storage site, including the presence of deep porous sandstone, well below any fresh water or hydrocarbon sources; multiple natural seals which ensure safe, permanent storage of CO2; and geological stability – meaning no faults or structural complexity, and no legacy wells within several kilometres. For added assurance, we’ve designed our CO2 injection wells with three layers of steel casing, each cemented in place to the surface to further protect shallow groundwater.

Shell is committed to demonstrating over the life of the Quest project that the CO2 captured and injected remains safely and permanently stored. A comprehensive and sophisticated monitoring system at the Quest storage site will maintain multiple levels of measurement, monitoring and verification (MMV) over the life of our project to confirm that the CO2 remains contained.

The Quest site and storage plan have been extensively peer-reviewed and externally verified. Quest received the world’s first certificate of fitness for safe CO2 storage from world-renowned risk management firm Det Norske Veritas (DNV).


Strong support from the local community was essential to building Quest.

Shell initiated its stakeholder outreach and engagement efforts some two years before submitting a regulatory application. The approach to public consultation for Quest was developed in collaboration with the Pembina Institute, a Canadian think tank focused on energy issues whose counsel helped shape Shell’s plans for engaging local residents and landowners.

Early consultation efforts focused on landowners and residents living along the proposed CO2 pipeline route and living in close proximity to the proposed injection wells, and making sure local municipal government representatives were aware of Shell’s plans. These engagements led Shell to make more than 30 adjustments to the pipeline route to accommodate stakeholder input. The pipeline was also routed to follow 28 km of existing pipeline right-of-way.

Shell has hosted dozens of events since 2008, including open houses to invite input and questions from the public. Shell also made information and contact opportunities widely available by establishing a dedicated 1-800 number, a public website, information packages, and a community newsletter to keep residents informed of plans.

Shell’s engagement with the local community is ongoing via the Community Advisory Panel  , which meets quarterly and includes local residents, regulatory agencies and members from the academic community. Through the panel, Shell provides information and updates on the monitoring, measurement and verification program, and the panel gives advice on how to share information more broadly in the community. 

Collaboration is continuing at the Quest site between Shell and various parties in an effort to advance CCS globally. Shell and the US Department of Energy will field test advanced MMV technologies at Quest for underground storage of CO2. The technologies under consideration would be tested alongside the state-of-the-art, comprehensive monitoring program already in place for Quest.

In addition, the United Kingdom’s Energy Technologies Institute, the University of Birmingham, the British government and Shell will support an eight-month secondment of a doctoral university student at Quest to focus on carbon capture and CO2 transportation. This delivers on the UK Canada Joint Statement on CCS issued in 2014.


The regulatory process for the Quest project provided a thorough and comprehensive review of all aspects of Shell’s project. A public hearing in March 2012 presided over by the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) (now Alberta Energy Regulator), provided another forum for the public to provide comment or ask questions.

In the regulatory approval it issued for the Quest project in July 2012, the ERCB commented on Shell’s consultation program:

“The Board finds that the communication and public consultation program initiated by Shell exceeds the minimum Participant Involvement Program requirements of Directive 056. The Board commends Shell for its communication and consultation to date.

The Board notes Shell’s plan to consult with regulatory, scientific and public communities on how to best share its reports and data. The Board strongly supports Shell’s plan to consider forming community advisory panels to help with the communication of complex monitoring data and developments.”

Why is carbon capture important?

Dr. Rick Chalaturnyk, University of Alberta professor, talks about why CCS is important.


Anita Spence, Quest Project manager, discusses project construction.