Noting that the carbon capture part of its Fort Nelson carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project is already taken care of, Spectra Energy is proceeding with the next stage of the feasibility work by commencing detailed geological assessments at the company’s existing gas gathering and processing facility in British Columbia.

The assessment will require drilling 2.5 kilometers into multiple sub-surface geological formations to extract core samples and perform tests of the physical properties of the saline formation into which carbon dioxide (CO2) may be sequestered (see Daily GPI, June 2, 2008). The Fort Nelson facility serves producers operating in the gas-rich Horn River Basin.

“This work represents an important milestone in the Fort Nelson carbon capture and storage feasibility project,” said Doug Bloom, president of Spectra Energy Transmission West. “Since our existing Fort Nelson gas plant already separates carbon dioxide during processing, the ‘carbon capture’ part of the CCS challenge has been addressed. Therefore, our focus now is on field work to confirm the suitability of the geological formations in the area to support large-scale sequestration of CO2.”

Spectra said the core samples will be sent to a laboratory for various tests and in-depth analysis. The results, together with reservoir modeling, are expected later this year and will provide information regarding the geological feasibility of a “world-scale” project. A concurrent review of the technical, regulatory and economic feasibility of the project is also under way. At the conclusion of the feasibility phase, a determination will be made regarding whether and when to proceed to a full-scale project, Spectra said.

Spectra’s feasibility work, which received support from the government of Canada during an announcement made by Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt in Calgary on Thursday, has previously received a C$3.4 million grant from the government of British Columbia. Spectra said the project also has the support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, through the Energy & Environmental Research Center’s Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership.

“What makes this potential project unique is its sheer size and scale, which would dwarf most existing projects and be among the largest in the world,” said Bloom. “Public sector involvement in a project of this scope is essential and will result in the sharing of best practices across the industry and have benefits in application to other industries within British Columbia, Canada and internationally.”

Currently, eight of Spectra’s gas processing facilities in Western Canada are equipped with CCS technology. On average, these facilities capture about 200,000 tons of greenhouse gases each year.

Earlier this month Spectra announced that seven Horn River Basin producers committed to 760 MMcf/d of gathering and processing capacity on an expansion of the company’s Fort Nelson facility (see Daily GPI, March 13). The expansion could accommodate up to 830 MMcf/d of incremental gas from the burgeoning Horn River Basin.

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