CALGARY, Alberta, Jan 14 (Reuters) - The government of
Alberta, Canada's main oil-producing province, plans to move
forward "very, very quickly" on its next carbon sequestration
hub in the Cold Lake region that will serve oil sands producers,
Energy Minister Sonya Savage told Reuters.
Alberta is currently accepting requests for proposals to
operate an underground carbon storage hub serving the Alberta
Industrial Heartland (AIH) zone near Edmonton. The process to
select an operator for another hub near Cold Lake will come "on
the heels" of that, Savage said in an interview late on
"We are going to need to move on Cold Lake very, very
quickly after Heartland," Savage said. "It's a hub that will
give certainty to oil sands and heavy oil production."
The government is keen to move forward this year on several
carbon storage hubs, where an operator will sequester both their
own and third-party emissions, so industries in different areas
of the provinces are not at a competitive disadvantage.
Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) is expected
to be a key part of global efforts to contain emissions from
fossil fuel production. It involves capturing carbon produced
from heavy industrial processes like upgrading oil sands bitumen
and storing it permanently underground.
"CCUS is probably my number one priority file at the
moment," Savage said.
Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency,
said on Thursday his organization considered CCUS to be one of
the three most critical decarbonization technologies.
Alberta is aiming to aggressively expand its CCUS industry
to help cut emissions and safeguard the future of its energy
industry as the world aims for net-zero emissions by 2050.
Savage's comments show how that plan is taking shape.
There has also been "tremendous interest" in a hub in the
Grand Prairie region, where a lot of natural gas processing
takes place, Savage added.
Alberta announced last year it would hold a competitive
process for how it allocates underground pore space after a
number of companies including Royal Dutch Shell, TC
Energy and an alliance of oil sands producers proposed
Savage said the province received nearly 50 expressions of
interest in leasing pore space rights from industries ranging
from energy to petrochemicals to fertilizer production.
The government asked for formal proposals for the AIH first
because they received the most interest in that area, and a
number of proposals competing for the exact same underground
pore space, Savage said.
Alberta plans to select the AIH sequestration hub operators
by the end of March, and Savage said projects that will be up
and running quickly are more likely to be successful.
"We have suggested to industry that time is of the essence,
we'll be weighted more heavily towards project proposals that
will be in service at an earlier date," she said.
Savage said all projects will have to go through a
regulatory process, and would likely take a couple of years to
(Reporting by Nia Williams
Editing by Marguerita Choy)