As of June 2, 2020, a new system designed to safely transport and permanently store carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, became fully operational. The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL) system, the world’s newest large-scale carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) project, is changing the way carbon is managed in Alberta and sets a technological example for the world.
The ACTL captures high-quality carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial sources like factories and plants near Edmonton, and transports it to central Alberta, where it’s injected into mature oil and natural gas reservoirs for enhanced oil recovery and permanent storage. The system is designed to store about two million tonnes of CO2 per year.
About 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 per year is captured at the North West Redwater Partnership (NWR) Sturgeon Refinery, about 70 per cent of the refinery’s emissions. An additional 300,000 tonnes of CO2 will be sourced from Agrium’s Redwater fertilizer plant. The liquefied CO2 then travels through a 240-kilometre pipeline owned by Wolf Midstream to a reservoir owned by Enhance Energy near Clive, Alberta.
The system includes the world’s largest capacity pipeline for CO2 from human activity, capable of transporting up to 14.6 million tonnes of CO2 annually – equivalent to capturing CO2 from more than 2.6 million cars. The system has excess capacity to allow future connection with more CO2 sources and storage reservoirs.
This project puts CO2 to use for enhanced recovery from mature reservoirs. The CO2 displaces oil or natural gas that would otherwise remain trapped in the reservoir and pushes the hydrocarbon to the surface, allowing up to 20 per cent more oil to be recovered. This process not only extends the reservoir’s productive life and produces low-carbon energy, but also permanently locks CO2 underground.
Start-up of the $1.2 billion project marks an important milestone, demonstrating how Alberta and Canada can effectively manage carbon emissions and support a cleaner global energy future.