Posts Tagged Depleted oil fields

Carbon dioxide leakage raises questions in Alberta

Posted by on Tuesday, 18 January, 2011

I came across a news item about the carbon dioxide contamination in a farm in Saskatchewan province of Canada. This leakage is possibly from the nearby underground carbon dioxide storage site operated by Weyburn. This report gains importance in the backdrop of Alberta government amending an existing act on CCS recently. You can find a post on this topic here.

Weyburn project was initiated with the twin objectives of

  1. Providing a new lease of life to the depleted oil fields
  2. Finding ways to trap and store carbon dioxide underground without letting it into the atmosphere.

This project has so far trapped and stored about 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the past decade and is a major contributor to CCS research in Canada. There is an allegation of carbon dioxide contamination of a farm from the near by Weyburn storage site that according to the owner of the farm has polluted the pond water and harmed their animals. Will this be a setback to the Weyburn project (in particular) and (in general) CCS research in Canada?

The wildrose alliance and the NDP, the main critics of Alberta government in its carbon reduction efforts are highlighting this leakage episode to scrap Alberta governments multi billion dollar pledge to make CCS projects commercially viable. Alberta energy minister Ron Liepert is defending his government’s $2 billion commitment towards CCS technology to store carbon emissions despite comments from their critics. The minister continues to say “Carbon capture and storage takes place throughout the world, and all of the data that we have is that it can be stored safely”.

Weyburn project is the largest CCS demonstration project operating in the world. So when such an allegation is framed on this project, a couple of questions comes to my mind that needs to be answered – Will this be a beginning of end of the research in CCS? Or is this just a false propaganda by the critics of the CCS projects? I believe a ‘wait and watch’ approach would provide a satisfactory answer to the above question.