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Hubs are the future of carbon capture and storage: Why Alberta is an ideal place to make it happen

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From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Deborah Jaremko

Alberta Carbon Trunk Line a ‘perfect example’ of a successful carbon capture and storage hub in action

Call it a CCS highway – a shared transportation and storage network that enables multiple industrial users to reduce emissions faster. 

So-called “hubs” or networks are becoming the leading development strategy for carbon capture and storage (CCS) as the world moves faster to fight climate change, according to the Global CCS Institute.  

Alberta, with its large industrial operations and more CO2 storage capacity than Norway, Korea, India, and double the entire Middle East, is an early leader in CCS hub development.  

“For Alberta, the concept of CCS hubs makes a lot of sense because you have many industry players that are trying to reduce their emissions, paired with beautiful geological opportunities beneath,” says Beth (Hardy) Valiaho, vice-president with the International CCS Knowledge Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan. 

Jarad Daniels, CEO of the Melbourne, Australia-based Global CCS Institute, says that historically, CCS would be a single project integrating a CO2 capture plant with dedicated CO2 compression, pipeline and storage systems.  

“Networks, where each entity typically operates only part of the full CCS value chain provide several benefits,” he says. 

“They reduce costs and commercial risk by allowing each company to remain focused on their core business.” 

The institute, which released its annual global status of CCS report in November, is now tracking more than 100 CCS hubs in development around the world. 

Alberta already has one, and Valiaho says it is a “perfect example” of what she likens to on and off-ramps on a CO2 highway.   

The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL) went into service in 2020 as a shared pipeline taking CO2 captured at two facilities in the Edmonton region to permanent underground storage in a depleted oil field.  

Map of the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line system. Courtesy Enhance Energy

So far ACTL has transported more than four million tonnes of CO2 to storage that would have otherwise been emitted to the atmosphere – the equivalent emissions of approximately 900,000 cars.  

ACTL was constructed with a “build it and they will come” mentality, Valiaho says. It has enough capacity to transport 14.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year but only uses 1.6 million tonnes of space per year today. 

The future-in-mind plan is working. A $1.6 billion net zero hydrogen complex being built by Air Products near Edmonton will have an on-ramp to ACTL when it is up and running later this year.  

Air Products will supply hydrogen to a new renewable diesel production plant being built by Imperial Oil. Three million tonnes of CO2 per year are to be captured at the complex and transported for storage by the ACTL Edmonton Connector.  

Hub projects like this are important globally, Daniels says, as CCS operations need to dramatically increase from 50 million tonnes of storage per year today to one billion tonnes by 2030 and 10 billion tonnes by 2050 

“It’s clear the development of CCS networks and hubs is critical for achieving the multiple gigatonne levels of deployment all the climate math says is required by mid-century,” he says. 

Valiaho says Alberta is an encouraging jurisdiction to develop CCS hubs in part because the government owns the geological pore space where the CO2 is stored, rather than developers having to navigate dealing with multiple resource owners.  

“Alberta is a model for the world, and the fact that the government has declared crown ownership of the pore space is very interesting to a lot of international jurisdictions,” she says.  

There are 26 CCS storage project proposals under evaluation in Alberta that could be used as shared storage hubs in the future, including the project proposed by the Pathways Alliance of oil sands producers.  

If just six of these projects proceed, the Global CCS Institute says they could store a combined 50 million tonnes of CO2 per year, or the equivalent emissions of more than 11 million cars. 

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Decarbonization deal opens new chapter in Alberta-Japan relationship

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From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Will Gibson

Agreement represents a homecoming for JAPEX, which first started work in the Alberta oil sands in 1978

new agreement that will see Japan Petroleum Exploration Company (JAPEX) invest in decarbonization opportunities in Alberta made history while also being rooted in the past, in the eyes of Gary Mar. 

JAPEX is seeking to develop projects in carbon capture and storage (CCS), hydrogen and bioenergy. It’s part of the company’s JAPEX2050 strategy toward carbon neutrality. 

“This new endeavour is a great opportunity that demonstrates the world is changing but the relationships endure,” says Mar, the province’s former trade envoy to Asia and the current CEO of the Canada West Foundation 

“Alberta’s very first international office was opened in Tokyo in 1981. And we have built a tremendous soft infrastructure that includes partnerships between a dozen Alberta and Japanese universities.” 

For JAPEX, the agreement represents something of a homecoming for the company that first started work in the Alberta oil sands in 1978 and operated one of the first in situ (or drilled) oil projects for nearly two decades before selling its stake in 2018. 

We are now aiming to come back to Alberta and contribute to its decarbonization,” JAPEX president of overseas business Tomomi Yamada said in a statement.  

Mar says the memorandum of understanding signed this March between JAPEX and the crown corporation Invest Alberta stems from a strong relationship built over decades.  

“You cant be considered a reliable partner for a new venture if you havent been a reliable partner for decades in the past,” says Mar.  

Economies change and worlds needs change but strong relationships are important factor in whom you do business with.” 

Alberta’s established CCS infrastructure has already attracted new investment, including Air Products’ $1.6-billion net zero hydrogen complex and Dow Chemicals’ $8.8-billion net zero petrochemical complex 

Mar sees JAPEX’s deal with Invest Alberta opening a whole new market of potential carbon neutral investors in the Pacific Rim. 

“When other countries who are partners in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) see JAPEX invest in this decarbonization opportunities and net zero projects in Alberta, it will send a very clear signal to others in the TPP about the potential,” Mar says.  

“This deal may come from the decades-long relationship between Alberta and Japan but can also serve as a signpost for decades to come.” 

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Canadian Energy Centre

New national campaign aims to solve worker shortage in Canada’s energy sector

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Donovan Doll works on a pipe at the CMR Fabricators Ltd. in Penhold, Alberta. Canadian Energy Centre photo by Dave Chidley

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Will Gibson

Enserva launches new portal to train workers and provide long-term employment opportunities

Canadian energy services association Enserva has launched its solution to solve a worker shortage of more than 3,000 jobs, including labourers, drivers and tradespeople.  

Having spent the better part of two decades working in the world of non-profit groups and think tanks, Enserva CEO Gurpreet Lail was taken aback after hearing about the sector’s labour struggles when she joined in 2021. 

“The perception outside the industry was much different,” says Lail. “This has been an ongoing challenge for a long time and our members decided to do something about it.” 

The result is a national campaign featuring the new Working Energy Portal, a sector-specific website with comprehensive job listings by the group’s 200-plus member companies and organizations. 

“This is an industry-wide challenge and we’ve found an industry solution,” Lail says.  

“We lost a lot of people during COVID and the downturn in energy prices and we’re now seeing employers fighting for labour regardless of the sector, be it energy or hospitality or technology,” she says.  

“In addition to these factors, our sector also has to address this ridiculous idea that Canadian energy is a dying industry. That’s simply not the case. The world is going to need our energy for a very long time, and we need talented people to help us innovate and produce it responsibly.” 

Enserva is hoping to connect those looking for jobs with companies that need positions filled and create a long-term solution to the shortage. 

But the portal is more than a job board. It will also serve as a training hub to provide Canadians with the right certifications, courses and a pathway to rewarding careers.    

“A lot of this is about educating people about what they might need so they can be successful in the industry, such as getting the right training and certificates,” says Lail.  

“Many prospective employers are willing to help prospective employees in order to address their needs for skilled workers. For example, if you have a clean Class 5 driver’s license, some employers who need Class 1 drivers will pay for that training.”

She says that as the energy industry continues to transform to include a mix of oil and gas and renewable sources, it needs to fill current and emerging positions in practices like artificial intelligence, robotics, geothermal energy and environmental sustainability.  

Enserva members helped create the portal in part because traditional job-search platforms didn’t always attract the right candidates or missed job seekers with real potential.  

Companies were using websites such as Indeed or LinkedIn but were finding it difficult to get the right candidates. Theyd often get more than 1,000 resumes and maybe five to 10 were suitable for interview. It takes a lot of time to sift through those,” Lail says.  

We are supporting our members to create or increase awareness of their companies, and the jobs available. This way promising candidates will not miss a great opportunity and will have opportunities to learn more about energy companies.” 

Enserva aims to push into new areas and communities to engage with prospective job seekers.  

“We are reaching out to non-traditional areas to showcase the reality that you can have a long-term and rewarding career in this sector if you are a woman, Indigenous or come from a newer community in Canada,” Lail says.  

“In addition to this outreach, we are continuing to recruit in traditional areas, such as young people entering the workforce and attracting former energy workers back into the sector.” 

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