BHP boosts Canadian CCS

BHP Billiton and Saskatchewan-based electricity provider, SaskPower, have announced a partnership to accelerate the global development of carbon capture and storage technology by sharing access to the data, information and lessons learned from SaskPower’s Boundary Dam facility – the world’s first full chain power sector CCS project.
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Haydn Black

Boundary Dam has often been cited by the World Coal Association as proof of the modern benefits of the use of innovative technologies to develop clean coal, ahead of the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21) forum in Paris in December.

That forum is expected to make landmark decisions on combating combatting climate change which could have dire implications for the coal sector.

The Boundary Dam CCS project rebuilt a coal-fired generation unit with CCS technology, resulting in low-emission power generation, with the project coming on line last year.

The 120 megawatt Unit 3 at the power station can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

The captured CO2 is sold and transported by pipeline to nearby oil fields in southern Saskatchewan where it will be used for enhanced oil recovery, or it is stored in the Aquistore research project, a 3.4km deep brine and sandstone water formation.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed by the two companies, and subject to contractual terms, BHP Billiton would contribute to the establishment of a global knowledge centre to help promote research and reduce the cost and risk associated with new CCS projects.

BHP Billiton chief commercial officer Dean Dalla Valle said he was “excited” that the Australian major was working with SaskPower to support efforts to reduce the world’s emissions.

“To respond effectively to climate change, we must develop and deploy a wide range of low emissions technologies more quickly than the usual commercial timeframes. But progress remains too slow,” he said.

“The individual components of CCS – capture, transport and storage – have been successfully demonstrated for many years but Boundary Dam is the first power project to bring all these together.

“Much more investment and many more projects are needed to bring down the cost of technology and accelerate its deployment. By making relevant information from Boundary Dam more widely available, we hope our contribution has a multiplier effect and promotes CCS investment around the world.

“We continue to assess other investments to support the development of CCS and other low emissions technology as part of our commitment to take action on climate change.”

Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall said the province was keen to help make CCS more accessible to the world.

“With private enterprises like BHP Billiton investing in low emissions technology, we are turning the tide today in Saskatchewan, and tomorrow around the world,” he said.

SaskPower president and CEO Mike Marsh said SaskPower’s intention is to allow the CCS expertise and knowledge being developed in Saskatchewan to be exported worldwide.

The Boundary Dam project also sells other by-products captured from the project.

Sulphur dioxide is captured, converted to sulphuric acid and sold for industrial use while fly ash is sold for use in ready-mix concrete, pre-cast structures and concrete products.

The project has reduced the SO2 emissions from the coal process by 100% and the CO2 by 90%.

BHP also has the Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan.

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