Former Schlumberger business lead Robert Mitchell to advance carbon capture and storage in Canada

Pipeline infrastructure at Shell's Quest CCS facility at the Scotford Upgrader in central Alberta. Image: Shell

For the Global Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Institute, deployment of CCS technology is vital for for tackling climate change and providing energy security.

The institute, headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, with regional offices in Washington DC, Brussels, Beijing and Tokyo, recently named Calgary-based Robert Mitchell as its new country lead for Canada.

In his new role, Mitchell is responsible for generating greater understanding and acceptance of CCS and for advancing the deployment of the technology as a key climate change solution.

This, at least in part, was exactly what he doing in his previous role with Schlumberger.

Here what Mitchell had to say in a brief interview with JWN before flying to Ottawa on Monday for a conference.

What expertise from your Schlumberger years will you draw upon for this role?

I was with Schlumberger for 20 years, working my way up from a field engineer through to line management.

In 2008 to 2010, I worked with a business unit called Schlumberger Carbon Services. We managed and ran projects that were in development looking at carbon capture and storage here in Alberta, Saskatchewan and across Canada.

We also participated in a lot of the Department of Energy projects in the U.S. That was still during the infancy of carbon capture and storage, with a lot of testing going on.

What are the main challenges in the adoption of CCS today?

Many of the technical components of CCS—the capture and transportation and even the storage—are proven technologies.

A lot of money was invested into CCS in 2007–2008 and a lot of projects have gone forward and demonstrated that this actually works.

Now the challenge is to move past the demonstration phase into more of a business. With every business there is a fiscal responsibility. So the economics is one of the challenges, making sure these projects are justifiable.

The other is understanding what policies and regulations are out there in various jurisdictions because that’s an uncertainty that could impact the economics as well.

As an engineer, how technical is your role now with the Global CCS Institute?

I’ll see as it comes. But right now, we’re networking with a lot of the sources and policy makers. We basically sharing the information about CCS.

Is this the right organization to make a difference in CCS adoption rates?

This why I am excited about this work. We are a global institute that has a footprint all over the world.

We can understand what’s happening from a policy and regulations perspective in Australia and all the other countries that have started to do things around CCS. Because of that knowledge, it helps make better decision moving forward