Calgary-based pipeline operator Enbridge Inc. is leading a group of 19 oil and natural gas players to advance carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration in Alberta.

The Alberta Saline Aquifer Project (ASAP) would be the first project of its kind in Canada, and would parallel another effort by Canada’s energy industry to capture CO2 emissions and move them underground via pipeline to storage areas in the province.

“Sequestration is widely considered to be one of the most meaningful ways that Canada and Alberta can reduce overall emissions,” said Enbridge CEO Patrick D. Daniel. “This project is a significant stepping stone in that endeavor, and an excellent opportunity for industry members to collaborate in the effort to find climate change solutions that work.”

Enbridge’s Chuck Szmulro, vice president of energy technology, noted that “oil and gas…[are] the source of these carbon emissions [that] came from deep underground, and essentially we’re putting it back from where it originated.”

ASAP would be rolled out in three phases. Phase 1, expected to be completed by the end of the year at a cost of C$750,000, would identify suitable locations for long-term sequestration of CO2 in deep saline aquifers. The group would conduct a pilot project in phase 2, in which sequestration sites would receive injected CO2. The pilot, to cost C$20-50 million, would process about 1,000 tons of CO2/day. To bring CO2 sequestration to a commercial level following a pilot project may cost more than C$200 million, Enbridge officials estimate.

ASAP participants represent a wide range of expertise in the energy sector. Included is founding partner EPCOR Utilities Inc., which builds, owns and operates power plants and electrical transmission and distribution networks in Canada and the United States.

“As a founding partner in ASAP, our goal is to accelerate CO2 capture and sequestration in Alberta, and to jump start the development of a CO2 pipeline that will be critical to its success,” said EPCOR CEO Donald Lowry.

Others members include ATCO Power Canada Ltd., BP Canada Energy Co., Chevron Canada Resources, ConocoPhillips, EnCana Corp., GreatPoint Energy Inc., Hatch Energy, Laricina Energy Ltd., Norwest Corp., OPTI Canada Inc., Pembina Pipeline Corp., Penn West Energy Trust, Praxair Canada Inc., Quadrise Canada Corp., Schlumberger Carbon Services, TransCanada and UTS Energy Corp.

A coalition of 14 Canadian corporations, including EPCOR, Suncor Energy Inc., TransAlta Corp. and Imperial Oil Ltd., are members of another carbon capture sequestration consortium called the Integrated CO2 Network, or ICO2N, which has proposed a plan to set up a federal system across Canada to capture emissions from several industrial sites and move them underground via pipeline. In ICO2N’s plan, the CO2 could be kept in depleted oil and gas reserves, unmineable coal formations or deep saline aquifers like ASAP. About 1,000 kilometers of main pipe and 400 kilometers of collector lines would be needed for this system, which the consortium estimates could be built in five to 10 years.

In related news Capital Reserve Canada Ltd. has launched a comprehensive review of its Two Hills Environmental Ltd. property in Alberta to consider creating up to 250 salt caverns to store CO2. The project also could involve drilling two CO2 disposal wells into the Nisku Fault.

According to Capital Reserve, the Two Hills site “is ideally located” about midway between Edmonton and Fort McMurray, AB. In 2006 the company acquired mineral rights to 2,500 acres of land adjacent to and surrounding its property near Two Hills, AB, and the site also contains a high-volume water pumping facility with a water diversion permit. The plant previously operated as a chemical manufacturing facility.

“The oilsands produce large quantities of CO2 emissions. and the proposed infrastructure development will provide a safe, long-term storage solution for substantially reducing the environmental impact associated in the mining process of bitumen,” said Capital Reserve President Steve Claussen. “We are pleased to be on the solution end of this environmental challenge and look forward to working together with other industry partners and government to help meet these obligations for all Albertans.”

Capital Reserve plans to propose the plan for review with provinicial authorities “with the intent to begin building the infrastructure as soon as possible.”

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