Carbon storage could lead to further environmental monitoring

VICTORIA — The B.C. government is investing in carbon capture and storage (CCS) research and development, which could potentially lead to further carbon management systems.

The funding will support an exploratory project to permanently store carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide in a reservoir two kilometres underground.

The province is providing Spectra Energy Transmission with $3.4 million for carbon capture and storage research and development at the Fort Nelson gas processing plant. The overall cost of the feasibility project in northeast B.C. will cost an estimated $12.1 million.

“Carbon capture and storage represents an important opportunity to help achieve the emissions cuts that will reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent by 2020,” said Richard Neufeld, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.

Carbon dioxide is injected one or two kilometres below surface or deeper through well bores drilled deep underground into saltwater-filled geological formations or depleted gas pools.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates the fraction of CO2 that will stay underground will likely exceed 99 percent over 1,000 years.

If the project proves successful, Spectra would be sequestering a total of 1.2 million of the 2 million tonnes of CO2 it produces each year.

However, Gary Weilinger, vice-president of strategic development at Spectra, told the Vancouver Sun that nothing is set in stone just yet and there needs to be more clarity on government policies for the project to move forward.

Specifically, more information about B.C.’s proposed carbon cap-and-trade program.

While carbon storage may be too difficult for trucking operations, a cap-and-trade system could provide a playing field for carriers to flex some of their environmentally conscious muscles.

A handful of different jurisdictions are working on different carbon solutions – and a Chicago-based carbon stock exchange is starting to catch on – so it may only be a matter of time before CO2 plays a bigger role in how business in trucking is done.

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