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Shell joins $80M international carbon storage research project


Regina, SK – Shell Canada says it recently signed on as a co-sponsor of the International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas (IEA GHG) Weyburn-Midale CO(2) Monitoring and Storage project (Weyburn-Midale CO(2) project) at the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) in Regina.

“Deployment of carbon capture and storage and a wide range of low-carbon technologies will be needed to meet the climate change challenge. Shell’s sponsorship of the Weyburn-Midale CO(2) project is in step with the carbon capture and storage work we are doing in other parts of the world with research institutions, regulatory agencies, international organizations and other energy companies,” said Dave Collyer, president, Shell Canada Limited.

The Weyburn-Midale CO(2) Project is one of the world’s three largest in-field carbon storage research projects, and the largest CO(2) enhanced oil recovery (EOR) project on land. In its final phase, the $80 million international study is investigating long-term geological storage of man-made carbon dioxide (CO(2)) – used around the world to increase oil production – in mature oil reservoirs. Research from the project is shared with partners on an ongoing basis.

“What makes the Weyburn-Midale CO(2) project a win-win project for Shell and other industry partners is the potential to store a man-made greenhouse gas in a natural hydrocarbon container, while realizing the economic benefits of increased oil recovery thanks to the CO(2),” said Ray Knudsen, project director of the Weyburn-Midale CO(2) project.

When CO(2) is injected underground in carbon flooding, it helps to thin light to medium oil and move oil that was previously unrecoverable towards production wells. The majority of the CO(2) remains underground and the portion that returns to the surface with the produced oil is captured and returned underground in a closed loop system.

“Shell believes it is important to test and demonstrate the science and methodology of CO(2) storage,” said Mr Collyer. “This research will further understanding about the safety and effectiveness of long-term underground storage of CO(2) and enable the public and regulatory agencies to make informed choices.”

Economically feasible storage of CO(2) provides a tactic to mitigate the environmental impact of oil production. It’s understandable that the environmental potential of the technology is grabbing international attention, while the economic benefits encourage early adoption of the technique. The final phase of the Weyburn-Midale CO(2) project will build on the data gathered in the first phase to further develop the most scrutinized data set for CO(2) geological storage in the world. A key end deliverable for this final phase is also to compile a best practices manual to guide all aspects of future CO(2) storage projects. This best practices manual will address both technical and policy considerations for successful implementation.

The project is supported by an international collaboration of governments, research institutes and industry. Government sponsors include: Natural Resources Canada, the United States Department of Energy, Saskatchewan Energy and Resources, and the Alberta government through the Alberta Energy Research Institute. Corporate sponsors currently include: Apache Canada, Aramco Services, Chevron, EnCana, OMV Austria Exploration & Production, Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE, Japan), Saskatchewan Power Corporation, Schlumberger Carbon Services and Shell Canada.