by Tina Olivero

    Unlocking a Greener Future: The ATLAS Carbon Storage Hub Project

    The global conversation around climate change has reached a pivotal juncture, and industries are increasingly stepping up to reduce their carbon footprints. In this endeavor, Shell, Suncor, and ATCO have joined forces to propose an ambitious project known as the ATLAS Carbon Storage Hub. This innovative initiative seeks to tackle the carbon emissions conundrum in the Alberta Industrial Heartland region, promising to be a significant step toward a more sustainable future.

    A Vision of Carbon Storage Excellence

    The ATLAS Carbon Storage Hub represents a collaborative effort between energy giants Shell, Suncor, and ATCO, aiming to revolutionize carbon emissions management. This visionary project, if approved, will be instrumental in mitigating CO2 emissions generated within the Alberta Industrial Heartland. It would serve as a central hub for the storage of CO2 emissions captured by several key projects.

    One of these projects is Shell’s Polaris Carbon Capture project, which holds the promise of capturing substantial carbon emissions. Additionally, the ATLAS hub would also accommodate potential emissions from Suncor and ATCO’s Heartland Hydrogen Hub. Beyond these in-house projects, ATLAS is committed to operating as an open-access facility, welcoming CO2 emissions from third-party industrial sources, further contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases in the region.

    Building on Success: The Quest CCS Connection

    The ATLAS project draws inspiration from the success of the Quest Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project, currently operational at the Shell Scotford facility. Quest CCS has already demonstrated the feasibility and effectiveness of carbon capture and storage technology, making it a pivotal reference point for ATLAS. The project envisions permanently storing CO2 emissions deep within a porous rock formation known as the Basal Cambrian Sands, located approximately 2 kilometers underground.

    The ATLAS project will be executed in multiple phases, contingent upon securing carbon sequestration leases from the Alberta government. The first phase alone aims to permanently store 800,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, primarily captured by the Polaris carbon capture project from the Shell Scotford Refinery and Chemicals plant near Fort Saskatchewan.

    A Collaborative Partnership

    The inception of the ATLAS Carbon Storage Hub is marked by a groundbreaking partnership between industry leaders. Shell, Suncor, and ATCO formally joined forces in 2022 to drive forward this ambitious endeavor. This partnership underscores the commitment of these companies to address the pressing issue of carbon emissions and their dedication to developing sustainable solutions.

    Government Support and Evaluation

    In a significant milestone for the project, the Government of Alberta selected ATLAS as one of the hubs designated to facilitate the sequestration of carbon emissions from Alberta’s industrial heartland region in the spring of 2022. ATLAS then entered into an evaluation agreement with the province to assess the suitability of the project area for safely storing CO2 emissions.

    Pioneering Exploration Techniques

    Ensuring the safety and efficacy of carbon storage is paramount to the ATLAS project. In pursuit of this goal, Shell is planning to conduct seismic operations in Beaver County and Camrose County starting in late 2023. This process, known as a 3D seismic survey, involves mapping the geological layers beneath the surface to support safe CO2 storage.

    The 3D seismic survey utilizes specialized equipment, known as vibroseis buggies, to emit sound wave energy into the subsurface. These waves are then recorded using geophones placed on the surface. Importantly, this technique minimizes soil disturbance during the survey process, highlighting the project’s commitment to environmental responsibility.

    Engaging with Local Communities

    Recognizing the importance of collaboration and transparency, representatives from Shell will commence outreach efforts to local landowners in the vicinity of the planned seismic survey. This outreach, starting in July 2023, will involve acquiring permits to access the land for the survey while also providing information about the program seeking feedback, and addressing concerns from the community.

    Furthermore, a water well testing program will be offered to landowners living near the seismic survey location, both before and after the survey. This proactive approach underscores the project’s commitment to the well-being of local residents and the environment.

    The ATLAS Carbon Storage Hub project represents a significant stride toward a sustainable future, exemplifying industry collaboration and environmental stewardship. If successfully implemented, it has the potential to become a model for carbon capture and storage initiatives worldwide, offering a tangible solution to the pressing challenge of climate change. With government support and a commitment to engaging local communities, the ATLAS project is poised to make a substantial impact in the ongoing battle against carbon emissions, paving the way for a greener, more sustainable tomorrow.

    SOURCE & IMAGES: https://www.beaver.ab.ca/public/download/files/231170

    Tina Olivero

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