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Carbon Capture Critical for Alberta’s Future, Says Premier

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said she sees carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) as an important way to keep Alberta’s oil and gas industry productive for years to come.

She also used her speech at the Carbon Capture Canada 2023 conference in Edmonton on Sept. 12 to criticize federal proposals to make the province’s electrical grid net zero by 2035.

“We don’t need what Ottawa has called the Just Transition in Alberta because we do not intend to transition away from oil and gas,” Ms. Smith told delegates at the conference, which boasted some 4,000 attendees from across the country and abroad.

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“This is not about transitioning away from oil and gas, it’s about transitioning away from emissions. And we can and will produce more, but we will also emit less,” Ms. Smith said. “Many of you are familiar with Ottawa’s overpriced, and we think over-hyped fantasy of a fully net-zero electricity grid by 2035.”

Ms. Smith said the federal government wants to impose hundreds of billions of dollars in extra costs on the country.

“This is why we have been pushing for the 2050 [net zero] target,” she said. “We believe Ottawa’s plans will drive away future investment in many sectors of our economy and Alberta would be left at risk for blackouts and brownouts.”

While the federal and Alberta governments have been at odds over the 2035 net zero target for months, Ms. Smith told her audience that CCUS could offer one way out of the standoff between the two levels of government.

“Industry has started down a path of reducing its emissions while exporting more oil and delivering more LNG [liquefied natural gas] and we look forward to having a fact-based discussion with Ottawa, one that results in a win-win outcome that is fair and supports the longevity of the oil and gas industry,” she said.

Ms. Smith said Alberta’s net-zero path would include the use of CCUS to reduce overall emissions and would continue to rely on affordable LNG to “achieve international credit under Article Six [of the Paris Climate Agreement] for reducing emissions from coal-fired plants by replacing it with our LNG.”

For Alberta, carbon capture is far more than a dream, Ms. Smith said, adding that it’s been the foundation of Alberta’s economic and environmental success and that it will continue to be, far into the future.

She pointed to two major projects already underway in the province. The Quest project involves taking CO2 from the Scotford bitumen upgrader near Edmonton and transporting it via pipeline 65 kilometres north to be buried up to two kilometres underground.

“Quest has safely captured and stored over 7 million tonnes of CO2,” said Ms. Smith.

Shell Canada, which operates the project, said on its website: “the world-class Quest Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) facility is proving that large-scale CO2 capture is a safe and effective measure to reduce CO2 emissions from industrial sources.”

Another project the premier pointed to is the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL).

ACTL is a 240-kilometre pipeline that carries CO2 from the Sturgeon refinery and the Nutrien Redwater fertilizer plant and uses the CO2 for enhanced oil recovery. The CO2 is injected into depleted oil reservoirs, allowing more oil to be recovered while the CO2 remains stored underground.

“Not only does the ACTL system remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere and decrease Canada’s carbon footprint,” said Enhance Energy on its website, “it uses the captured CO2 to revitalize a light oil industry.”

Not everyone is convinced that CCUS will work.

In an open letter to Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault in November 2022, the Environmental Defence group said that companies “keep pointing to carbon capture and storage—despite the technology’s decades-long track record of underperformance and failure.”

Ms. Smith went on to accuse critics of not being up to date.

“This is a field which is sometimes misjudged, disparaged, and dismissed out of hand like so many emerging technologies,” she said. “But critics are behind the times. More than 100 new projects are in the works worldwide,” she said.

The premier pointed out that the CCUS industry could be worth $55 billion per year by 2030 and that it has the potential to emerge as a powerful tool in the evolution of carbon-neutral economies.

“There’s a global energy transition underway and Alberta is going to lead it. We would love to do all of this with Ottawa’s help, but we intend to do it either way, with or without their help

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