Sask. government renews carbon capture priorities

The Saskatchewan government renewed its carbon capture priorities Tuesday morning at one of the world’s largest enhanced oil recovery projects operated by Whitecap Resources near Weyburn.

“If we don’t promote what we’re doing here in Canada and in Western Canada other countries will step into the space,” said Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Bronwyn Eyre.

Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is a process where CO2 is used to flush otherwise unreachable oil out from pores in the rock deep underground.

The president and CEO of Whitecap Resource’s carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) facility said EOR is an aspect of production they’re interested in expanding, but it depends on what the next federal government does surrounding enhanced oil recovery

“Capital at this particular time, when the economics are unknown making investment into sequestering more CO2 into our existing EOR, just is not feasible,” said Grant Fagerheim.

The provincial government said it plans to advance private sector investment in CCUS by expanding pipeline infrastructure to include CO2 pipeline projects, changing regulations to give certainty over pore space ownership and access and exploring opportunities for CCUS infrastructure hubs in the Regina-Moose Jaw Industrial Corridor.

About one third of the CO2 is brought in from Estevan’s Boundary Dam Carbon Capture Plant, but the province pointed to Ottawa when it comes to the potential for EOR efforts to lead to similar projects at Saskatchewan’s other coal-fired power plants.

Eyre said the province has asked the federal government if it will consider shouldering 50 per cent of the capital costs of retrofitting Boundary Dam Unit #6.

The province said it is confident in the benefits of creating EOR and CCUS hubs, but whether that confidence reaches the federal level could depend on the outcome of the election on Sept. 20.