Enhance Energy remains committed to trunk line
Project buoyed by prospect of enhanced oil recovery, company president says
The decision by TransAlta Corp. and project partners Capital Power Corp. and Enbridge Inc. to abandon their proposed Pioneer carbon capture and storage (CCS) scheme at the Keephills 3 power plant west of Edmonton did not surprise Susan Cole.
“It was a demonstration project, and the current carbon pricing in Alberta cannot fulfill the entire revenue stream required for that type of project right now,” she says.
Indeed, TransAlta said Alberta’s current $15-per-tonne levy on select emitters, as well as its budding market for enhanced oil recovery, or EOR, weren’t enough to support the $1.4-billion carbon capture scheme.
Cole, president of Calgary-based Enhance Energy Inc., says the province must still work on developing “breakthrough” technologies to clean up flue gas. “I don’t think that issue has gone away.”
To that end, Enhance, backed by more than $500 million in provincial and federal funding, has proposed building a backbone for a planned carbon dioxide distribution network in the province, what it calls the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line or ACTL for short.
The project gets its name from the Alberta gas trunk line, which a firm chartered by the legislature (now TransCanada Corp. subsidiary Nova Gas Transmission Ltd.) built in the 1950s as a way to gather stranded gas into long-distance pipelines.
Plans are entirely contingent on construction of the $15-billion refinery complex proposed by North West Upgrading Inc. north of Edmonton. The current design calls for pumping CO2 from that facility and a nearby fertilizer plant to revive old oilfields in southern Alberta.
Cole, who counts a stint at the CO2-storage scheme at Saskatchewan’s Midale oilfield on her resume, is confident the trunk line won’t follow Pioneer into the dustbin, in part because the pipeline project is not dependent on selling captured CO2.
“The basic premise of our project is EOR, and the revenue stream, the majority of it, is from the sale of light oil,” she says. “We’re not marketers of CO2.”