Shell, Chevron and Marathon Oil will build a carbon capture and sequestration mechanism into their 225,000 barrels per day Athabasca Oil Sands Project, which they feel when the system is ready in 2015, it will be able to capture 1 million metric tons a year of carbon dioxide and inject it a mile underground.

The oil sands are more carbon intensive than other sources of oil because the sludge must undergo a partial refining process, or an upgrade, before it’s thin enough to flow through pipelines. That upgrading process requires a lot of heat, which comes from burning natural gas, which generates quite a bit of carbon dioxide.

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The Quest CCS project will capture the carbon dioxide that comes out of the Scotford Upgrader near Edmonton, Alberta, then take it by pipe about 50 miles north where it will inject underground between impermeable layers of rock. Eliminating all that carbon dioxide will effectively reduce the emissions by 35%.

Quest will cost $1.4 billion, about half of which will be put up by the government of Alberta, paid out of a $2 billion fund specifically created to finance carbon capture technologies.

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Chevron is no stranger to CCS; at its giant Barrow Island LNG project in Australia, the oil giant is building a system to inject 3.4 million tons of carbon dioxide a year into the earth. That CO2, however, separates out of the natural gas harvested from the Gorgon fields.

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