A newly-opened 240-km pipeline is moving CO2 from Redwater, north of Edmonton, to a storage reservoir near the village of Clive, northeast of Red Deer. There, Enhance Energy Inc. will inject the stored carbon into the Clive reservoir, producing what the pipeline’s operators bill as “ultra-low carbon energy”, because more carbon will be stored than will be generated for each barrel of oil produced, refined and consumed.
Wolf Midstream, owner and operator of the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line, as the pipeline is known, heralds it as a key part of a future low-carbon economy.
CO2 currently flowing through the pipeline comes from a bitumen refinery and a fertilizer plant in Redwater. The destination is a mature oil and gas field that still holds reserves that can be freed using CO2 injections to bring oil to the surface. The technique does not involve fracturing and presents no risk of induced seismicity, according to the pipeline’s operators. The practice is widely used to wring oil out of depleted fields in the United States, but has not yet caught on widely in Canada.
“This will change how business is done in Alberta,” said Kevin Jabusch, CEO of Enhance Energy, in a release. “We are putting CO2 to use. We permanently keep CO2 out of the environment, while producing low-carbon energy. Not only are we reinvigorating our rural energy economy at a time when it is needed most, but we are playing a key role in advancing a sustainable solution to global energy requirements.”
Wolf Midstream is betting that its pipeline can meet a growing demand for solutions to industrial emissions. At full capacity, the Enhance Energy project in Clive will consume just a fraction of the pipeline’s 14.6-million-tonne annual capacity. If it ever reaches that threshold, it will be capturing the carbon equivalent of more than 2.6 million cars on the road, or 20% of the oil sands’ current annual emissions.