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Scotford site with barrels

The Athabasca Oil Sands project produces heavy oil called bitumen, which is transported by pipeline to Shell’s Scotford Upgrader near Edmonton, Alberta.  Beginning in 2015, Quest will capture and store deep underground more than one million tonnes a year of CO2 produced in bitumen processing.

CCS is critical to meeting the huge projected increase in global energy demand while reducing CO2 emissions, explained Peter Voser, Former Chief Executive Officer of Royal Dutch Shell plc. “If you want to achieve climate change goals, CCS has to be part of the solution.”  The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects CCS could provide around one fifth of the world’s CO2 emissions reductions by 2050.  The agency also calculates the cost of reaching those CO2 targets will be 70 per cent higher without rapid CCS progress.

“We will need all sources of energy to meet world demand in the coming decades,” Voser noted.  “Lower CO2 energy sources will grow, but even by 2050 at least 65 per cent of our energy will still come from fossil fuels.  So CCS will be important to manage climate impacts.”

Shell is proceeding to construct the Quest CCS project at its Scotford oil sands Upgrader near Edmonton, Canada on behalf of the joint venture owners and with funding from the Canadian and Alberta governments.  The Upgrader and Quest are part of the 255,000-barrel-per-day Athabasca Oil Sands Project, owned 60 per cent by Shell Canada Energy and 20 per cent each by Chevron Canada Limited and Marathon Oil Canada Corporation.

Designed to capture and store more than one million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, Quest will capture about one third of the direct emissions from the Scotford Upgrader – that’s equivalent to the emissions from about 250,000 cars.

Shell’s flagship CCS project

Mongstad CO2 Technology Centre, Norway

Mongstad CO2 Technology Centre, Norway

Shell considers Quest the flagship of its global CCS programme.  It is the world’s first commercial-scale CCS project to tackle carbon emissions in the oil sands, and the first CCS project in which Shell will hold majority ownership and act as designer, builder and operator.  It will also form the core of Shell’s CCS research programme and help develop Shell’s CO2 capture technology. To progress CCS on a global scale we need projects like Quest to improve technology and lower costs.

In addition to Quest, Shell is involved in a slate of leading CCS projects worldwide. Shell is a 25 per-cent partner in Australia’s Gorgon natural gas liquefaction project, operated by Chevron, that includes the world’s largest CCS project.

The facility is expected to start storing CO2 in 2015 and will capture between three to four million tonnes of CO2 per year. In Norway, Shell is a partner in the world’s largest CO2 capture research facility, Test Centre Mongstad (TCM), and at Boundary Dam, in Saskatchewan, Shell’s Cansolv subsidiary has provided carbon capture technology which will recover 90 per-cent of the CO2 from flue gases of a new 150-MW turbine at the existing coal-fired power plant.

In 2010, Quest was one of the projects worldwide recognized by the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) (PDF, 97 KB) contributing to global research and collaboration in CCS advancement. It’s also one of eight projects the consulting group Bloomberg New Energy Finance has said place North America in the lead of the international “Race to First” for CCS technology development.

Shell aims to be a technology leader within the energy industry and CCS development is an important part of that effort. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently named Shell as the only energy company in its list of the world’s top 50 corporate innovators. “Much of the engineering expertise needed to progress CCS already exists within Shell,” noted Shell CO2 Executive Vice President Graham van’t Hoff.

“We have decades of experience in understanding subsurface reservoirs, rock properties and the ways in which gases are transported and stored,” van’t Hoff added. “This is one of the reasons we are well placed to progress CCS projects.”

Globally, Shell is working with governments and other CCS interests - both political and technical - to develop and deploy CCS on a wider scale.