Monday, October 24, 2011

Carbon Capture and Storage

Information release

Hon. Evan Berger, MLA Livingstone-Macleod
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development

Hon. Evan Berger 
MLA Livingstone-Macleod
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas that comes from many sources - decay of plant and animal matter, fires and even our breathing. It is also produced by burning fossil fuels. Every time we drive our cars, heat our homes or turn on the lights, we use energy created from fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas and this creates CO2. In addition, a number of industries that make an important contribution to our province’s economy and quality of life, like electricity production and the oil and gas industry, emit CO2.

That’s where carbon capture and storage (CCS) comes in. CCS is a process that captures CO2 from large industrial sources and injects it into carefully selected sites deep underground for safe, long-term storage so the emissions do not enter the atmosphere. This technology will make the largest contribution to Alberta’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This is because it is the only way to substantially reduce CO2 emissions from these sectors in the short term while protecting the significant economic benefits these industries create for Albertans.

In a nutshell, CO2 is separated and collected from emissions produced by heavy industry, then compressed and transported  to a storage site and pumped into carefully selected, secure underground geological formations that can safely and permanently store the gas. In Alberta, these sites have to be at least one kilometre underground – that’s almost twice the height of the CN Tower. These sites are well below agricultural land and fresh water sources. After the CO2 is secured deep underground and the injection site is no longer needed, the site is tightly sealed and monitored long-term to ensure there are no safety or health risks to the public or environment.

Captured CO2 can also be used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). EOR is a process that involves injecting CO2 into older, existing oil fields to extract oil that would not be able to be removed otherwise. Rather than requiring new oil fields and infrastructure to be developed, EOR will allow production to come from oil fields that already have the necessary infrastructure in place, such as wellbores, pipelines and access roads.

To help get CCS up and running so Alberta can meet its climate change goals, the provincial government has committed $2 billion to four large-scale projects that will remove five million tonnes of CO2 annually. That’s the equivalent of taking one million cars off Alberta roads. This investment not only showcases Alberta’s commitment to the environment, it also cements its role as a leader in this new technology.

To ensure large-scale CCS projects are done in a safe and effective way, a number of Canadian and international experts are reviewing the rules that currently apply to CCS in Alberta as well as rules and best practices in other areas of the world. The review will examine in detail the technical, environmental, safety and monitoring requirements that apply at every stage of a CCS project to determine what, if any, new rules should be put in place to protect people and the environment and ensure CO2 is safely and permanently stored deep underground. The review is expected to be complete by late 2012 and a new regulatory system will be place well before any of Alberta’s large-scale CCS projects begin operating.

For more information about CCS, you may visit

1 comment:

  1. Alf Thompson6/11/11

    Hey Evan... you forgot to say "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." You turned out to be just another Earth Killer.


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