Norway's Gassnova CEO impressed by Canada's onshore CCS achievements

Gassnova CEO Trude Sundset. Image: Gassnova

It’s “too early to tell” if Norway, a world leader in carbon capture and storage (CCS), would invest in CCS projects in Canada, according to the head of the country’s government-owned enterprise charged with ramping up the technology.

Trude Sundset, chief executive of Gassnova, made the comment following a visit along with government and corporate officials from Norway, Germany and Ireland to the three CCS projects in Canada this week.

This includes the Boundary Dam project in Saskatchewan, where Crown-owned utility SaskPower operates a 115 megawatt unit that captures 1.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide yearly from the first CCS project linked to a coal fired plant; Shell Canada’s oilsands-fed Quest CCS plant, which stores one million tonnes yearly from its Scotford refinery near Edmonton; and the Sturgeon Refinery, designed to capture 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 yearly and transport it by pipeline to oilfields in central Alberta when construction is complete this year.

Sundset said the group wanted to tour the projects because Canada is "a world leader in onshore CSS."

Gassnova has been involved in offshore CCS since 1996 and now wants to develop CCS projects at onshore industrial plants including a trash incinerator in Oslo, a cement facility and a fertilizer plant.

Norway has a CCS project in the Sleipner Vest offshore natural gas field that stores nearly one million tonnes a year, a similar sized CCS project in the offshore Gudrun field, and another project where CO2 is separated from a wellstream, converted into LNG and then the equivalent of 700,000 tonnes of C02 is injected into the subsea.

However, the country is just starting to develop onshore CCS projects.

Sundset said Gassnova, which runs a research program and technology demonstration centre, would be willing to work with CCS project developers in Canada to further the technology, which it sees as a key to tackling climate change while also allowing the fossil fuel sector to grow.

“It’s very impressive and inspiring to see what you’ve done in Canada,” she said. “We can do knowledge sharing. We need to step up the effort. I think we have a lot to gain by co-operating more deeply.”

She said it’s “too early to tell” if Gassnova, which has significant funding available from the Norwegian government, would invest in projects in Canada. But she didn’t rule that out.

“There is global funding available for CCS,” she said. “We need incentives for CCS.”

The three projects the group toured have all been financed by Canadian companies, which have received various forms of government funding, but none of the three has tapped offshore investment.

The group didn’t tour Canada’s oldest CO2 storage and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) project, which is located near Weyburn, Sask. That project, now owned by Cenovus Energy Inc., as well as a nearby project owned by Apache CanadaLtd., has been operating for more than a decade.

The Weyburn-Midale CO2 storage and EOR projects will lead to the production of 130 million barrels of light oil during the next 25 years, while eventually storing 20 million tonnes of CO2. Some non-Canadian funding has helped develop those projects, which have relied on CO2 pipelined from a coal-fired plant in North Dakota and will also tap CO2 from Boundary Dam.

Artur Wilczynski, Canada’s ambassador to Norway, who accompanied the group, said they also met with Alberta government officials to discuss the projects in the province.

He said the Norwegian, German and Irish participants wanted to learn about the technologies involved in the projects, as well as the regulatory environment in Canada that has paved the way for them to be developed.