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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

Seven survivors of Alberta tour bus rollover near Jasper file lawsuit

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EDMONTON — A northern Alberta woman who survived a fatal tour bus crash in Jasper National Park this summer says she is one of the lucky ones, but her recovery will be long and painful. 

Sweta Patel, 27, from High Prairie, Alta., is one of seven people who have filed a lawsuit against operators of the vehicle involved in the rollover.

Three people, including her uncle and a friend, died July 18, when a glacier sightseeing bus rolled off a road on the Columbia Icefield. Fourteen suffered life-threatening injuries.

“Sometimes in your life a quick moment can change everything. For me and my friends, July 18 was that moment,” Patel said Wednesday.

“Though I survived, I am left with devastating mental and physical injuries. I now live a completely dependent life, filled with a series of doctors and legal appointments.”

Brewster Travel Canada Inc., Viad Corp., Glacier Park Inc., Brewster Inc., Brewster Tours, Banff-Jasper Collection Holding Corp., the unidentified driver and an unidentified employee of one of the tour operators are named in the statement of claim.

Patel, who wears a halo head brace for her neck injury, appeared at a news conference in Edmonton with her husband, who was also hurt in the crash.

She said she has a C1 fracture in her neck that is still healing and could be permanent.

“I have over 20 fractures and the pain that I go through every day — it’s not easy,” she said.

“Financially, we are also struggling at a time when there is extra economic uncertainty across the county.”

The seven plaintiffs are from the High Prairie and Whitecourt areas, but have been told to stay in Edmonton for better access to treatment for their injuries.

“Overall, I think the lasting effect is the trouble my clients have had trying to get their treatments covered through this tour bus company,” said Basil Bansal, a lawyer with Diamond and Diamond LLP.

The lawsuit alleges that the operators failed to ensure the bus was safe, failed to provide seatbelts, employed a driver who acted recklessly and unreasonably, failed to carry out proper inspections and failed to properly train their drivers. 

The allegations have not been proven in court.

This is the second legal action against the tour bus operators. In August, an application for a class-action lawsuit was filed by James H. Brown and Associates with the Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary.

The lead plaintiff in that lawsuit is Devon Ernest, 22, from North Battleford, Sask., who was on the tour with his girlfriend, Dionne Durocher of Canoe Narrows, Sask., and his cousin Winnie Ernest.

Durocher died at the scene.

The class action, which so far includes 10 of the 27 people on the bus, must be approved by a judge if it is to go ahead.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 30, 2020.

Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

‘Small number of kooks:’ Alberta premier condemns apparent racist rally in Edmonton

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SPRUCE GROVE, ALBERTA — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is adding his voice to others condemning an apparent white supremacist rally in Edmonton.

Police broke up what they called a demonstration involving opposing groups on Tuesday night in the city’s northeast.

About 100 people were involved and police say physical confrontations took place between those calling themselves patriots and others calling themselves anti-fascists. 

Kenney says racists and white supremacists are un-Canadian and un-Albertan.

He says Canada, while imperfect, was built on the concepts of human dignity and equality.

Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu has also condemned the demonstration. 

It’s the latest in a series of racial encounters in the province.

Workers at a project near a junior high school in Edmonton were fired recently after swearing and using racist language during an Indigenous smudging ceremony, and clashes have taken place between white supremacist groups and Black Lives Matter demonstrators.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve got a small number of kooks who go around trying to get attention for a message of hate,” said Kenney. “We condemn racism and racial prejudice.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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