British Columbia has undertaken many CCS-related initiatives directed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The BC Energy Plan, A Vision For Clean Energy Leadership released in 2007 identified CCS as a technology capable of providing meaningful, long lasting reductions to GHG emissions. The Plan also requires any new coal-fired thermal electricity facilities to be zero net GHG emissions, encouraging deployment of clean-coal and carbon sequestration technology. To further promote carbon sequestration; in 2007 the province contributed $3.4 million to a joint government-industry sponsored CCS feasibility study to investigate options for the Fort Nelson natural gas processing plant.
In recent years, the Government of British Columbia has passed a number of significant pieces of climate action legislation that define the province’s approach to reducing GHG emissions and preparing for the new low-carbon realities of the future. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act ratified in 2007 set aggressive GHG emission targets at 33% below 2007 levels by 2020, increasing to 80% by 2050. The Climate Action Plan published in 2008 provides a roadmap outlining how these targets can be met, with every sector of the economy addressed. Also, the 2008 Oil and Gas Activities Act clarified pore space ownership within the province by expanding the existing definition of a storage reservoir to include disposal of “prescribed substances”. These substances can encompass waste products from various sources regardless of industry, and the amendment provides clear direction to enable future CCS projects.
British Columbia plays a prominent role within the Western Climate Initiative, an association of independent Canadian and U.S jurisdictions committed to working together to identify, evaluate, and implement policies to tackle climate change at a regional level. The centerpiece of WCI strategy is a regional cap-and-trade program, potentially enabling CCS by providing a funding mechanism for new projects. Representatives from British Columbia co-chair the Executive Committee and provide leadership and participation on many committees, teams and task groups within the partnership.
In January 2010, the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office granted an Environmental Assessment Certificate to EnCana Corporation for its Cabin Gas Plant Project. Significantly, the assessment report concluded the project is not likely to result in any significant adverse effects, with the exception of CO2 emissions. To address this issue, the proponent committed to build the plant “capture ready”, and to work with government and industry to explore CCS options in the area.
Specrta Energy Inc. is leading a multi-million dollar project investigating the feasibility of utilizing a nearby, two kilometre deep Devonian-aged saline aquifer for sequestration of CO2 and hydrogen sulphide (H2S) from their Fort Nelson natural gas processing facility. CO2 and H2S are impurities occasionally found in natural gas and must be extracted to meet pipeline and marketing specifications. If successful, the project has capacity to safely store underground approximately 1.2 Mt of CO2 currently being vented into the atmosphere and effectively eliminate the province’s largest single point source of GHG emissions. Expected exponential growth in shale gas production from the Horn River Basin (containing 10 – 12% CO2) could make this project significantly more important; potentially storing up to 2.5 Mt of CO2. Funding for the feasibility study has been provided by the governments of British Columbia and Canada, Spectra Energy Inc., and the Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership. Both governments and Spectra Energy Inc. are exploring the form of partnership arrangement that will move the project from feasibility to a commercial scale project and into the early phases of development.