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International Partnership Evaluates Feasibility of Major Carbon Capture and Storage Project in British Columbia, Canada

U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Spectra Energy Transmission, and the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) in Grand Forks, North Dakota, announced their collaboration on a large-scale integrated carbon capture and storage (CCS) project near Spectra Energy’s existing Fort Nelson natural gas plant in northeastern British Columbia, Canada.

The project—in its initial feasibility phase—aims to determine whether deep underground saline reservoirs (geological features which occur commonly throughout the United States and Canada) are appropriate for CCS. Tests and analysis will help demonstrate the effectiveness of using the technology to manage greenhouse gases.

The project will be part of a technology demonstration program conducted by the EERC’s Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership. The PCOR Partnership is one of seven regional partnerships in the United States selected by NETL to evaluate the best methods for capturing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2). The PCOR Partnership also includes the British Columbia (BC) provincial government, which has directly contributed a $3.4 million grant toward the project as previously announced. The EERC is working with PCOR Partnership members, including NETL, Spectra Energy, and BC, to expedite the deployment of CO2 sequestration technologies in the region. The Fort Nelson demonstration is one of two projects the PCOR Partnership will lead in its Phase III efforts (during 2007–2017).

As part of the feasibility project—which will evaluate geological, technical, and economic feasibility—Spectra Energy will drill two test wells to determine whether the surrounding geology is suitable for the permanent storage of CO2 and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). These compounds are present in the raw natural gas produced in the area and removed during processing at the company’s Fort Nelson gas plant. If proven feasible, the EERC will design and implement a monitoring program for the injection phase of the project to ensure the safety of the environment and provide a basis for the creation and monetization of carbon credits.

“This is an exciting project that will contribute to solving one of our country’s most important energy issues – how we will continue to use our fossil fuel resources as we address the issue of climate change,” Senator Dorgan said. “The EERC has proven itself as a world leader in energy research, and I’m confident that, by teaming up with NETL and Spectra Energy, they’ll help make great strides in addressing that important question.”

“At Spectra Energy, we have been utilizing carbon capture and storage technology for more than a decade,” said Martha Wyrsch, president and chief executive officer of Spectra Energy Transmission. “Based on that experience, we believe CCS holds real promise in providing a safe and effective means of reducing greenhouse gases.”

“Deploying CCS on a scale measuring up to the challenge of climate change requires a significant commitment from both the public and private sectors,” Wyrsch continued. “We are excited to be working in collaboration with the Department of Energy and the Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership as well as the province of British Columbia to explore the feasibility of a large-scale project at our Fort Nelson plant in BC.”

Spectra Energy has been recognized by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as a world leader in CCS technology. Currently, four of Spectra Energy’s gas processing facilities in British Columbia and four in Alberta are equipped with CCS technology. Together, these facilities remove about 200,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere each year.

“The PCOR Partnership is a model program at the EERC that emphasizes our culture of partnerships,” said EERC Director Gerald Groenewold. “The more than 85 partners involved in the program are leveraging the facilities, world-class expertise, and vision of the EERC with their own financial and technical resources to lead the way to an energy-secure future. We believe that these efforts will allow for the environmentally responsible and synergistic utilization of the region’s bountiful energy resources, including those from our coal, oil, natural gas, and renewable resources.”

The contract was awarded by DOE with funds appropriated by Congress. Initial injections are scheduled to begin in late 2011.

The EERC is a research, development, demonstration, and commercialization facility recognized as one of the world’s leading developers of cleaner, more efficient energy technologies as well as environmental technologies to protect and clean our air, water, and soil. The EERC, a high-tech, nonprofit division of the University of North Dakota, operates like a business and pursues an entrepreneurial, market-driven approach to research and development in order to successfully demonstrate and commercialize innovative technologies. The EERC currently employs over 300 people. Since 1987, the EERC has had over 1000 clients in all 50 states and 50 countries. Visit for more information.

Spectra Energy Corp (NYSE:SE) is one of North America’s premier natural gas infrastructure companies serving three key links in the natural gas value chain: gathering and processing; transmission and storage; and distribution. For close to a century, Spectra Energy and its predecessor companies have developed critically important pipelines and related energy infrastructure connecting natural gas supply sources to premium markets. Based in Houston, Texas, the company operates in the United States and Canada approximately 18,000 miles of transmission pipeline, 265 billion cubic feet of storage, natural gas gathering and processing, natural gas liquids operations and local distribution assets. Spectra Energy Corp also has a 50-percent ownership in DCP Midstream, one of the largest natural gas gatherers and processors in the United States.

Derek Walters | newswise
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