Resources

FAQ

Below are some answers to questions you might have. If you have a query and you don’t see the answer here, contact us at info@pathwaysalliance.ca and we’ll try to provide one.

What is carbon capture?

Carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) is the process of capturing carbon dioxide formed during power generation and industrial processes and storing it so that it is not emitted into the atmosphere.

How does carbon capture work?

CO₂ can be captured directly from an industrial source, such as a cement kiln or oil and gas facility, using a variety of what are called separation technologies, including: absorption, adsorption, chemical looping, membrane gas separation or gas hydration.

Are there any other ways to achieve the 2050 goal?

No one solution will get us to net zero oil production. According to the International Energy Agency, carbon capture is currently the best technology available to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from large-scale fossil fuel usage, particularly power generation.

How exactly does carbon capture and storage work?

In the capture stage, equipment attached to industrial facilities diverts gas containing CO2 (before it reaches the atmosphere) into vessels. Then a chemical separates and captures the CO2.

The captured CO2 is compressed to convert it to a liquid. A specially designed pipeline transfers the liquid CO2 to the secure storage hub. The Pathways Alliance CCS project will follow existing pipeline routes as much as possible.

Finally, the liquid is injected into the storage hub deep underground. In this case, it will be injected into a non-potable saline aquifer (a permeable rock formation that contains groundwater too salty to be usable). The CO2 stays permanently trapped underneath cap rock.

Is there any proof carbon capture works?

Yes. Canada already has CCS projects that have been reliably operating for years, and there are dozens more around the world. About 100 projects like ours are in progress in other countries, including Norway and the Netherlands. They’ve also proven that industry-government collaboration can help achieve net-zero goals.

Is CCS safe?

Yes. The captured CO2 is stored more than one kilometre underground, well below any freshwater sources. The rock formations that have stored oil and gas for millions of years can also securely and permanently store CO2. These overlying layers of impermeable rock act as natural seals.

Careful site selection and rigorous monitoring ensure the injected CO2 remains sequestered and doesn’t have an impact on freshwater, plants, soil, or geological stability.

Are the storage sites monitored?

Yes. Alberta adopted CCS technologies early, so the province is governed by comprehensive legislation.

The Pathways Alliance team is made up of scientists and engineers with significant technical experience in subsurface reservoirs, rock properties, and safe transportation and storage of gasses. They’ll also conduct extensive and regular monitoring of:

  • injection wells
  • storage formation
  • deep monitoring wells
  • shallow groundwater wells

Are there other technologies you’re working on?

Yes. More than 200 engineers, scientists, and experts are working to achieve our net-zero goal. Our working groups are studying and advancing more than 70 technologies, including:

  • Next-generation carbon capture.
  • Direct air capture for underground storage and conversion to liquid fuels.
  • Natural gas decarbonization from in situ operations.
  • Ways to better manage fugitive emissions.
  • Fuel-switching that will replace coke-fired boilers with significantly lower-emission cogeneration units.
  • New water treatment tech to lower emissions through improved water recycling.

 

We’re also working on:

  • A pilot project on molten carbonate fuel cell technology for more efficient carbon capture.
  • A study to evaluate the feasibility of CO2 sequestration in depleted gas reservoirs.
  • Ongoing solvent-injection testing to reduce the amount of steam needed to extract oil.
  • Using clean-burning hydrogen fuel in oil sands operations.
  • Assessing the future viability of small modular reactors as a safe, versatile, and scalable technology.
  • Studying the potential for using low-emission deep geothermal energy in the oil sands.
  • Alternative bitumen extraction methods.
  • Electrification of mining trucks to move materials more efficiently and reduce emissions.
  • Applying high-temperature, reverse-osmosis membrane technology. This could reduce emissions by producing water that doesn’t need constant heating and cooling.
  • Accelerating tech that transforms CO2 into usable products through the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre and Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance.

Get more details about these technologies

Read more about the progress we’ve made

How are you working with governments on this project?

We continue to work with the federal and Alberta governments to ensure Canada’s CCS co-funding programs and regulatory environment are globally competitive, and that emissions reduction targets for our industry are realistic and achievable.

We’re encouraged the Government of Alberta selected our proposed carbon capture and storage hub near Cold Lake to advance to the next stage of evaluation.

The federal government announced an Investment Tax Credit for carbon capture utilization and storage projects. It’s a positive step forward in our foundational CCS project and our efforts to help Canada achieve its climate goals. And we’ll keep advocating for more support from governments to make sure Canada’s industries are on an even playing field with global competitors.

Glossary

You can find definitions of some unfamiliar words here.

Carbon Capture

The removal of CO from fossil fuels either before or after combustion. Carbon capture utilization and storage can be referred to as CCUS.

Carbon Dioxide (CO₂)

A colourless, odorless gas that’s produced when animals (including humans) breathe or when carbon-containing materials (including fossil fuels) are burned. Carbon dioxide is essential to the photosynthesis process that sustains plant and animal life. But, it can accumulate in the air and trap heat near the Earth’s surface (the ‘greenhouse effect’).

GHG

Greenhouse gases are: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulphur hexafluoride.

Sequestration

Storing something so that it’s no longer available. Carbon sequestration involves the removal or storage of carbon dioxide so that it can’t be released into the atmosphere.

Storage

A process for retaining captured COso that it does not reach the atmosphere.

Transport

COtransport is the process of moving captured CO through a pipeline or other vessel to a suitable storage site.

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Forward-looking statements are based on current expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions at the time the statements are made. Actual future results, including expectations and assumptions concerning: demand growth and energy source, supply and mix; amount and timing of emissions reductions; the adoption and impact of new facilities or technologies, including on reductions to GHG emissions; project plans, timing, costs, technical evaluations and capacities, and the ability to effectively execute on these plans and operate assets; that any required support for the pathways from the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada will be provided; applicable laws and government policies, including climate change and restrictions in response to COVID-19; production rates, growth and mix; general market conditions; and capital and environmental expenditures, could differ materially depending on a number of factors. These factors include global, regional or local changes in supply and demand for oil, natural gas, and petroleum and petrochemical products and the resulting price, differential and margin impacts; political or regulatory events, including changes in law or government policy and actions in response to COVID-19; the receipt, in a timely manner, of regulatory and third-party approvals including for new technologies; lack of required support from the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada; environmental risks inherent in oil and gas exploration and production activities; environmental regulation, including climate change and GHG regulation and changes to such regulation; availability and allocation of capital; availability and performance of third-party service providers; unanticipated technical or operational difficulties; project management and schedules and timely completion of projects; reservoir analysis and performance; unexpected technological developments; the results of research programs and new technologies, and ability to bring new technologies to commercial scale on a cost-competitive basis; operational hazards and risks; general economic conditions, including the occurrence and duration of economic recessions; and other factors referenced by the companies’ in their most recent respective annual reports and management’s discussion and analysis, as applicable.

Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve a number of risks and uncertainties, some that are similar to other oil and gas companies and some that are unique to the companies. Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by its forward-looking statements and readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on them. The companies undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this press release, except as required by applicable law.