Pathways Alliance, Alberta reach CCS evaluation agreement

Jan. 6, 2023
The Pathways Alliance, representing Canada’s largest oil sands producers, has entered into a carbon sequestration evaluation agreement with the Government of Alberta.

The Pathways Alliance, representing Canada’s largest oil sands producers, has entered into a carbon sequestration evaluation agreement with the Government of Alberta. The agreement enables Pathways to immediately start detailed testing to further assess sequestration suitability, with field work set to start later this quarter. This testing—and existing information collected by Pathways Alliance companies with operations in the area—will help shape field development plans to support the final application for a storage agreement and further regulatory approvals.

The proposed carbon storage hub in the Cold Lake area of Alberta would be connected to a 400-km pipeline that would initially gather captured CO2 from an anticipated 14 oil sands sites in the Fort McMurray, Christina Lake, and Cold Lake, Alta. regions. Pathways plans to grow the transportation network to include more than 20 oil sands sites, and to accommodate other industries in the region interested in CCS. It has completed pre-engineering work on the pipeline and begun detailed engineering.

In 2022, Pathways collected a full year’s worth of environmental field data and will do additional collection this year to have its application ready to submit to the Alberta Energy Regulator by fourth-quarter 2023. The Alliance is conducting engineering studies for Phase 1 CO2 capture, having completed nine feasibility studies as of October 2022.

Pathways Alliance describes its project as critical to achieving its plan to reduce CO2 emissions from its member companies’ oil sands operations by 22 million tonnes by 2030 and to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Engagement is ongoing with local parties and First Nation and Métis communities along the proposed CO2 transportation line and storage network.

Pathways is a collaboration between Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy Inc., ConocoPhillips Canada (BRC) Ltd., Imperial Oil Ltd., MEG Energy Corp., and Suncor Energy Inc., which together operate roughly 95% of Canada’s oil sands production. It describes this project as one of the world's largest CCS developments.

Alberta last year selected 25 proposals to develop storage hubs in the province (OGJ Online, Oct. 7, 2022).