Carbon capture and storage
Carbon capture and storage is the name given to a combination of technologies that captures and stores carbon dioxide deep underground, preventing its release into the atmosphere.
The world will need carbon capture and storage (CCS) to achieve the ambition of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. CCS technology can be used to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from a range of industries including steel, chemicals and power.
There are 21 large-scale CCS projects in operation or under construction globally, with a combined capacity to capture around 40 million tonnes of CO2 each year. All projects presently in construction (five as of January 2017) are expected to be operational by the end of 2017.
Shell is sharing the knowledge and experience gained in CCS through various working groups. The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative’s (OGCI) Climate Investments partnership – comprising 10 major oil and gas companies, including Shell – has made CCS one of its priority areas. It plans to invest in finding ways to make CCS commercially viable by reducing the cost of the technology and exploring ways to deploy CCS in a wide range of industrial sectors including power, iron and steel.
We work with the Zero Emissions Platform, which brings together energy companies, academics and non-governmental organisations to support the development of CCS. In 2016, we launched an app to share information about CCS and to explain how it works.
Shell is also investing in the future Gorgon CO2 injection project in Australia, the CCS Test Centre in Mongstad, Norway, and the Qatar Carbonates and Carbon Storage Research Centre in the UK.
In Alberta, Canada, Shell operates a joint venture (Shell interest 60% in 2016) that has developed the first commercial-scale CCS facility for CO2 extracted from our oil sands operations. The Quest facility is designed to capture up to 35% of the current CO2 emissions from the Scotford Upgrader – a plant where bitumen is processed into synthetic crude oil. The captured CO2 is stored in a porous rock layer about 60 kilometres away and more than 2 kilometres under ground. The provincial government of Alberta and the federal government of Canada have provided C$865 million to support the development of Quest.
In 2016, in its first full year of operation, Quest safely captured and stored more than 1 million tonnes of CO2 ahead of schedule. This is equivalent to the emissions from about 250,000 cars. Shell and our joint-venture partners are freely sharing any data or intellectual property generated by the Quest project to help others advance CCS projects and demonstrate the technology’s value on an industrial scale.
In March 2017, Shell agreed to sell to Canadian Natural Resources Limited (Canadian Natural) its 60% interest in the Athabasca Oil Sands Project (AOSP), its 100% interest in the Peace River Complex in-situ assets including Carmon Creek, and a number of undeveloped oil sands leases, all in Alberta, Canada. In a related transaction, Shell and Canadian Natural have agreed to jointly acquire Marathon Oil Canada Corporation, which has a 20% interest in the AOSP. Following these transactions, Shell will continue as operator of the Scotford Upgrader and Quest.
Quest is designed to meet all the requirements for the safe and permanent storage of CO2. We have developed a rigorous monitoring programme, agreed by the government and verified by a third party, to ensure that the CO2 remains safely and securely underground. This includes continuous pipeline monitoring and early-warning systems, groundwater sampling and 3D seismic surveying. Throughout the development of Quest, we conducted an extensive consultation programme with nearby communities. We share results from our monitoring programme with them.
CCS technology developed by Shell Cansolv, a subsidiary of Shell, is used at the power station Boundary Dam in Saskatchewan, Canada. It is SaskPower’s largest coal-fired power station and a significant source of power for the region. Both sulphur dioxide and CO2 are captured from the power station. We continue to support SaskPower to improve the application of the technology.
How carbon capture and storage works
See what’s involved in the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide deep underground
CO2 is injected deep underground into the microscopic spaces in porous rocks. A layer of impermeable rock, called a cap rock, lies directly above the porous rocks ensuring that the CO2 remains there permanently.
Measuring, monitoring & verification (MMV)
Monitoring of storage sites takes place within the storage reservoir, as well as at the injection well, where sensors can detect small changes in pressure or CO2 levels. In addition, a number of monitoring technologies can be incorporated within the geosphere, biosphere and atmosphere surrounding the storage site to make sure the CO2 is permanently stored.