Canada Oilsand Companies Look at Nuclear Reactors Again

Canada’s oil and gas companies are looking to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The main vision is Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) which is an emissions reducing technology that is currently being used in Canada and around the world. It captures the carbon before, during and after combustion and then either safely stores it or makes it available for use in products such as concrete. Our plan includes a trunkline connected to a carbon sequestration hub that allows connection for other sectors to use for emissions reductions.

Nextbigfuture notes that capturing carbon dioxide at scale means capturing gases that are greater than the input natural gas. CO2 from natural gas is greater than the mass of the natural gas. Oxygen is added during the combustion processes. Pipelines are needed to deliver natural gas or oil to the plants. Reversing this process to capture CO2 and then put it back into the ground means capturing about double the gases. There is difficulty getting the natural gas and oil out of the ground and transporting them to the plant. Carbon capturing means making a capturing system and a reverse pipeline system. Pipelines are one way to the plants now.

Canada’s oilsand operations are emitting about 70 million tons of CO2 every year. The Fort McMurray test of CO2 capture spent over $1 billion to capture 1 million tons of CO2. $1 billion to capture 5 days worth of oilsand CO2.

Planting less than 1 million trees can capture 1-10 million tons of CO2.

They also plan to deploying existing and emerging GHG reduction technologies at oil sands operations along the corridor, including CCUS technology, clean hydrogen, process improvements, energy efficiency, fuel switching and electrification.

They are evaluating, piloting, and accelerating application of potential emerging emissions-reducing technologies including direct air capture, next-generation recovery technologies and small modular nuclear reactors.

Nextbigfuture wrote about the use of small modular nuclear reactors at Canada’s oilsands 15 years ago. The idea has been considered but has not actually been advanced for over 15 years.

Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus Energy, Imperial, MEG Energy and Suncor Energy formally announced the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero initiative. These companies operate approximately 90% of Canada’s oil sands production. The goal of this unique alliance, working collectively with the federal and Alberta governments, is to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from oil sands operations by 2050 to help Canada meet its climate goals, including its Paris Agreement commitments and 2050 net zero aspirations.

SOURCES – Oilsands Pathway to Net Zero
Written by Brian Wang,