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Alberta

Big boost for energy companies working on emission reduction innovations

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15 minute read

From the Province of Alberta

In October 2019, Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) launched the Natural Gas Challenge and invited technology developers to share project concepts for innovation opportunities in Alberta’s natural gas industry.

Alberta’s government is providing $58 million through ERA to support this opportunity to create jobs in the natural gas sector.

Funding recipients include a project that uses artificial intelligence to locate and measure methane emissions, and a project to produce renewable natural gas from biogas at an agricultural facility that will be the first of its kind in Alberta.

The 20 new projects have the potential to reduce a cumulative one million tonnes of emissions by 2030 – the same as taking about 750,000 cars off Alberta’s roads. These projects will also get Albertans back to work by creating more than 750 new jobs when they are needed most.

“Alberta is already a leader when it comes to our environmental footprint, and our ongoing work with Emissions Reduction Alberta will help us become even better.”

Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks

Projects were selected through ERA’s competitive review process. Experts in science, engineering, business development, commercialization, financing, and greenhouse gas quantification reviewed 117 submissions and chose projects based on the strongest potential for success.

“With Alberta’s 300-year supply of affordable natural gas, a technically skilled workforce and world-class environmentally responsible facilities, there is tremendous opportunity for Alberta to compete with international markets. Funding opportunities like this, in partnership with Emissions Reduction Alberta, are critical to attracting investments that will grow Alberta’s economy by reducing upfront costs, while reducing our province’s share of global emissions.”

Dale Nally, Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity

Government funds ERA through the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) system. TIER is an improved system to help energy-intensive facilities find innovative ways to reduce emissions and invest in clean technology to stay competitive and save money. Facilities can pay into a TIER Fund, which is used for innovative and cleaner Alberta-based projects like those selected under the Natural Gas Challenge.

ERA’s funding model requires that every dollar committed to an initiative is matched or exceeded by additional investments, which ensures there is a market demand for the technology. Government’s $58-million investment through ERA has been more than doubled by private and public investment to stimulate the economy, lower emissions and create jobs, leading to a total of $155 million in funding.

“Investing in the next wave of technological advancements will help Canada’s natural gas industry achieve new efficiencies, reduce costs, and continue to drive world-leading environmental performance.”

Steve MacDonald, CEO, Emissions Reduction Alberta

A complete list of the successful Natural Gas Challenge projects can be found here.

“We are grateful for ERA’s support to help fund Canadian Natural’s ALT-FEMP project. By working together, we will develop and pilot technologies that can be adopted across the industry to enable early detection of methane emissions through cost-effective methods, ultimately accelerating industry’s reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Joy Romero, vice-president of technology and innovation, Canadian Natural Resources Limited

“This project is an important first step for Alberta, which has all the ingredients to be a leader in the hydrogen economy – including the ability to produce a near zero-emission hydrogen at a lower cost than most jurisdictions in the world.”

George Lidgett, executive vice-president and general manager, Canadian Utilities Inc.

Quick facts

  • In 2018, Alberta produced almost 70 per cent of the marketable natural gas in Canada.
  • ERA works with government, industry and innovators to support technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Since 2009, ERA has committed $607 million in funds from industrial carbon pricing toward 183 projects worth $4.1 billion that are reducing emissions, keeping industries competitive, and leading to new investment opportunities.
  • These 183 projects are estimated to deliver cumulative reductions of 34.8 million tonnes of emissions by 2030.

If successful, these technology innovations will lead to cumulative GHG reductions of almost one million tonnes of CO2e by 2030—equivalent to the GHG emissions from 750,000 passenger vehicles driven for one year. It is anticipated these projects will also deliver approximately 760 new jobs.

Funding is being sourced from the carbon price paid by Large Final Emitters in Alberta through the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund.

The following projects were selected for funding:

UPSTREAM PROJECTS:

MultiSensor Canada Inc.
Methane Imaging Solution for Continuous Leak Detection and Quantification for Tank Emissions and Facility Monitoring
Total project value: $3,200,000 | ERA commitment: $1,600,000
Permanent installation and demonstration of an infrared camera at 100 well sites to provide continuous leak detection and quantification for tank emissions and facility monitoring.

Qube Technologies
Emissions Reductions Through Artificial Intelligence
Total project value: $16,200,000 | ERA commitment: $4,000,000
Deployment of an industrial device designed to collect large quantities of data to use artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to better quantify, locate, and classify emissions.

University of Calgary:
Field-Scale Deployment and Acceleration of Made-In-Alberta Technology for Fugitive Emissions Detection and Reduction
Total project value: $3,200,000 | ERA commitment: $1,600,000
Full-scale, field pilot of a new vehicle-based technology designed for equipment-level emissions screening to support effective regulatory leak detection and repair.

Canadian Natural Resources Limited
Fugitive Emissions Study Using Aerial Detection Technology
Total project value: $1,900,000 | ERA commitment: $930,000
Pilot project of both aerial screening technology and ground-based detection at conventional oil and gas facilities to validate technology performance and inform a broader Alternative Fugitive Emissions Management Program (FEMP).

Challenger Technical Services
Multi Component Downhole Injection System
Total project value: $2,600,000 | ERA commitment: $1,000,000
Development, testing, and validation of a multicomponent downhole injection system that uses epoxy resins to rapidly seal leaking oil and gas wells and eliminate surface casing vent flow.

Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC)
Affordable Zero-Emission Fail-Safe Electric Dump Valve Actuator (EDVA) Phase 2
Total project value: $2,200,000| ERA commitment: $550,000
Applied research, prototype design and development, and field pilot testing of an electrically-driven valve actuator that is more compact, powerful, and lower maintenance than alternative pneumatic options.

Kinitics Automation Limited
Valve Actuator for Gas Producers
Total project value: $1,100,000 | ERA commitment: $550,000
Testing a novel electric actuator at 15 well sites in Alberta to validate the technology as a cost effective, technically viable alternative to eliminate venting from established pneumatic devices.

Westgen Technologies Inc
Unlocking EPOD Economic Zero Bleed Pneumatic Instrument Air Retrofit Solution
Total project value: $4,000,000 | ERA commitment: $1,300,000
Demonstration of a solar-hybrid power generation system for remote well sites to provide reliable electricity to prevent gas venting from pneumatic devices in a cost-effective manner.

Modern Wellbore Solutions
Demonstration of a Full-Scale Multilateral Junction Assembly
Total project value: $12,100,000 | ERA commitment: $3,500,000
Full-scale deployment of a multilateral junction tool assembly that will allow natural gas operators to drill, complete, and operate multi-branched wells for unconventional reservoirs. The technology reduces emissions by enabling lateral junctions rather than requiring separate wells.

Tourmaline Oil Corp.
Natural Gas Mobile Unit for Drilling Rig Power Generation
Total project value: $8,000,000 | ERA commitment: $3,200,000
Pilot demonstration of a plug and play, mobile power generation system for drilling rigs that uses smart energy to automatically start and stop generators to match the power demand of the rig.

DOWNSTREAM AND VALUE-ADDED PROJECTS:

ATCO Gas and Pipelines Ltd.
Fort Saskatchewan Hydrogen Blending
Total project value: $5,700,000 | ERA commitment: $2,800,000
Pilot project to test hydrogen blending in ATCO’s Fort Saskatchewan natural gas distribution system. The project will source and test equipment and determine applicability of existing codes, standards, and legislation.

Ekona Power Inc.
Development and Field Testing of a Tri-Generation Pyrolysis (TGP) System for Low-cost, Clean Hydrogen Production
Total project value: $13,800,000 | ERA commitment: $5,000,000
Prototyping a new approach to converting natural gas to hydrogen and a solid carbon by-product representing a new pathway to produce zero-emissions hydrogen, electricity, and other products by decarbonizing natural gas.

Standing Wave Reformers Inc.
A New Wave in Hydrogen Production
Total project value: $8,200,000 | ERA commitment: $3,000,000
Design optimization, system integration, pilot demonstration, techno-economic analysis, and advancement of commercial deployment plans for a technology system to decarbonize natural gas.

ATCO Gas and Pipelines Ltd.
ATCO and Future Fuel RNG
Total project value: $15,900,000 | ERA commitment: $7,900,000
First-of-its-kind commercial demonstration to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) to be sold and used within the province in Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fleet vehicles and commercial applications.

Sustainitech Inc.
Co-Locating Natural Gas and Indoor Agriculture for Alberta’s Future
Total project value: $17,900,000 | ERA commitment: $5,000,000
Design, construction, and operation for a first-of-kind commercial deployment of a modular farming system that combines automation, hydroponics, adsorption cooling, and advanced lighting to grow crops.

Enersion Inc.
Greenest Natural Gas-Powered Quad-generation with a 41% GHG Reduction
Total project value: $3,800,000 | ERA commitment: $1,800,000
Technology that uses natural gas to generate electricity, cooling, and heating in an integrated package for multiple applications, including industrial, agricultural, commercial, and residential sectors

Stone Mountain Technologies, Inc.
Demonstration of Thermally Driven Heat Pumps for Residential Heating Applications
Total project value: $2,000,000 | ERA commitment: $990,000
Design and prototyping of technology that uses natural gas to drive a heat pump cycle. Unlike electrically-driven heat pumps, the technology is ideal for cold climates.

Anax Power
Turboexpander Project
Total project value: $6,200,000 | ERA commitment: $2,400,000
Installation and operation of technology that provides clean, distributed electricity from the pressure and flow of natural gas without combustion.

Innovative Fuel Systems
Advanced Dual-Fuel System Commercial Demonstration
Total project value: $2,800,000 | ERA commitment: $1,200,000
Commercial validation of technology that allows heavy duty truck engines to displace up to 50 per cent of their diesel with cleaner burning natural gas.

Converting Landfill Gas to Renewable Natural Gas
Total project value: $25,000,000 | ERA commitment: $10,000,000
The project will explore opportunities to upgrade landfill gas (LFG) at Clover Bar Landfill and inject it into Alberta’s natural gas system as renewable natural gas (RNG). Stakeholders in the Clover Bar Landfill, the City of Edmonton and Capital Power, are exploring these possible opportunities.

All recipients are required to produce a final outcomes report that will be shared publicly for the broader benefit of Alberta. All projects involve field piloting, demonstration, or commercial deployment of technology within the province.

Click the links below for more details on ERA’s Natural Gas Challenge:

WHY TARGET THE NATURAL GAS VALUE CHAIN?
Natural gas is a critical resource, providing heat and power for Alberta’s residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. It is the least GHG emitting of traditional fossil fuels, and a global shift toward natural gas from coal- and oil‑based resources is underway.

Canada is the fourth largest natural gas producer in the world, with net exports totaling $6.1 billion in 2018. Alberta produces almost 70 per cent of the marketable natural gas in the country. In 2017, the province emitted 35 million tonnes of CO2e from natural gas production and processing. A significant opportunity exists to improve cost competitiveness along Alberta’s natural gas value chain and reduce GHG emissions.

The Government of Alberta is committed to revitalizing Alberta’s natural gas sector. The province is developing and implementing a robust strategy with key recommendations from the 2018 Roadmap to Recovery Report, a document advising the government on reviving Alberta’s natural gas industry.

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Alberta

WestJet grounds Max flight before takeoff after system indicates ‘potential fault’

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CALGARY — WestJet says a Boeing 737 Max that was scheduled to fly from Calgary to Toronto on Friday returned to the gate before taking off due to a warning in the cockpit.

A WestJet spokeswoman, Lauren Stewart, said that after the plane’s engines were started, its monitoring system indicated a “potential fault that needed to be verified and reset.”

The process takes time and requires an engine run, which the airline does not perform with passengers on board, Stewart said.

In the interests’ of passengers’ time, WestJet cancelled the flight and booked passengers on the next available flight to Toronto, Stewart said.

The aircraft has since been cleared by maintenance and will return to service as scheduled on Jan. 24, Stewart said.

The Max was cleared to fly in Canadian airspace on Wednesday after it was grounded for nearly two years following deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Indigenous business coalition leader says Keystone XL denial will hurt communities

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CALGARY — The leader of a group promoting Indigenous participation in oil and gas development as a solution to poverty on reserves says the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline by U.S. President Joe Biden is a major setback.

Dale Swampy, president of the National Coalition of Chiefs, says the decision means fewer jobs in the short term for Indigenous people in constructing the pipeline and supplying goods and services for it.

He adds it also implies more long-term unemployment for those who work in exploring and developing conventional and oilsands projects in Western Canada because it impedes investment in production growth.

The end of the pipeline means Natural Law Energy, which represents five First Nations in Alberta and Saskatchewan, will no longer be able to make an equity investment of up to $1 billion in Keystone XL, as well as a plan by builder TC Energy Corp. to make similar deals with American Indigenous groups.

But Swampy, a member of the Samson Cree Nation in central Alberta, points out that the impact on Indigenous people goes beyond that, noting that four of his five sons work in oil and gas but one of them has been unable to find a job in the current downturn.

In a report published in December, energy industry labour data firm PetroLMI said about 13,800 self-identified Indigenous people were directly employed in Canada’s oil and gas industry in 2019. That’s just over seven per cent of total industry employment, compared to three per cent in other industries.

“It’s quite a blow to the First Nations that are involved right now in working with TC Energy to access employment training and contracting opportunities,” said Swampy.

“Within Alberta, First Nations are pretty closely entrenched with all of the activities occurring with the oil and gas industry. Any change, especially a big change like this, really affects our bands’ ability to keep our people employed.”

Swampy is a former CEO of the Samson band. The coalition he heads was created in 2017 by Indigenous equity partners in the cancelled Northern Gateway pipeline and has a membership of about 80 bands.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP)

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