Quest CCS

Quest Facility Spotlight: showing how large-scale CO₂ capture can be safe and effective

Learn more about the exciting work being done at the Quest carbon capture plant near Edmonton, Alberta.

By Shell Catalysts & Technologies on Aug 19, 2021

A growing range of hard-to-abate industries are considering carbon capture and storage (CCS), driven by regulatory incentivisation and rising demand for lower-carbon products. Shell’s target is to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050. CCS plays an important part in that strategy. And CCS technologies are gaining momentum; the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that plans for more than 30 new integrated CCS facilities have been announced since 2017. If those projects proceed as planned the amount of global CO2 capture capacity would more than triple.

Shell aims to contribute to that growth in global capture capacity and has facilities in operation that demonstrate those ambitions. Since its opening in 2015, the Quest facility has captured more CO2 than was anticipated, storing it safely underground while attaining better than expected reliability, cost and storage performance. With more than 6 million tonnes of CO2 captured, transported and secured to date, the Quest facility demonstrates an effective approach to reducing carbon emissions from industrial sources.

Drivers of CCS technology and development

Organisations like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the IEA have long agreed that, especially for hard-to-abate industries like refining, cement and steel, CCS will be required to meet decarbonisation targets. Now, there are strengthening incentives for CCS that make it more commercially viable.

In Europe, these incentives are put in place by the Green Deal, emissions trading schemes and national CO2 levies. In North America, the adoption of CCS is stimulated by tax credits and the prospect of carbon taxes increasing significantly in decades to come. In other regions, CCS technologies provide an ability to meet increased demand for low-carbon products like blue hydrogen or blue ammonia in the Middle East.

See how Shell is showing how large-scale CO2 capture and storage can be safe and effective by learning more about its Quest CCS facility below.

Quest facility project overview

Quest CCS Project Overview

There are four basic stages involved in Quest’s capture and storage process:

  • Capture
  • Compression
  • Transport via pipeline
  • Storage

Capture stage:

The first stage of CCS starts with the capture of CO2 from three steam methane reforming (SMR) hydrogen manufacturing units. Hydrogen is produced from the upgrading of bitumen from oil sands into synthetic crude oil in the Scotford Upgrader. However, CO2 is also produced as a byproduct of the hydrogen manufacturing process and must be captured to prevent taxable emissions.

ADIP-X is the capture technology utilised at Quest. It uses accelerated reaction kinetics for enhanced CO2 removal and is a water-based technology that uses two amines: methyl diethanolamine (MDEA) as the main reactant and piperazine as the accelerator. ADIP-X can outperform alternative solvents used in acid-gas removal services due to its high carrying capacity and non-corrosivity.

Learn more about carbon capture solutions in SMR-based hydrogen manufacturing units by reading the white paper.

Compression stage:

After capturing the CO2, it is then compressed up to about 10 MPa to keep the CO2 in dense phase throughout the system. This enables easier transportation in later stages. The compressor stage also utilises a dehydration unit to ensure the limitation of water in the system. H2O and CO2 produce a carbonic acid that can be corrosive to pipelines and can lead to environmental and safety hazards. The dehydration unit protects against this possibility.

Transport stage:

Once the CO2 is compressed, it is transported efficiently through 65 kilometres of carbon steel pipeline with six block valves at intervals ranging from every 4 to 15 kilometres. The idea behind the block valves is to ensure that if a problem were to develop with the pipeline, the valves can be used to cut off CO2 transport and mitigate emissions to a relatively small amount. From the first weeks of project planning through its continued operation, the Shell team has prioritised cautionary measures like these valves to protect against unlikely or unforeseen environmental or safety risks.

While transport infrastructure was being planned, pipelines were re-routed multiple times to accommodate local landowner requests. As is the case with any project of this scope, it was important to the Shell team to take all stakeholders into account and listen to and address their concerns. Each year, approximately 1.2 million tons of CO2 is transported through this pipeline system and it’s believed that two to three times that much could be transported if necessary.

Storage stage:

The final stage of the CCS process at Quest is the storage or injection phase. The injection site has three wells, each of which can take up to 70 tons per hour. By making sure that a spare well is available at all times, if one well needs to be put out of service for maintenance work, for example, our team remains confident that all of the CO2 that comes from the capture plant can be injected and safely stored. Given the ability of our wells and the characteristics of the reservoir at the storage site, we believe the site is more than capable of sustaining adequate injectivity and storage capacity for the project duration.

Learn “How it works” - carbon capture & storage

“How it works: Carbon Capture and Storage”

Title: {How it works: Carbon Capture and Storage}

Duration: {1:30} minutes


{See how Shell’s Quest CCS project safely capture and storage carbon emissions.}

{Shell’s Quest carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Alberta, Canada, is designed to capture and safely store more than one million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year – equal to the emissions from about 250,000 cars.

CCS is one of the only technologies that can significantly reduce carbon emissions from industrial sectors of the economy, and the Quest project is a blueprint for future CCS projects globally.

See how the project will capture one-third of the emissions from Shell’s Scotford Upgrader, which turns oil sands bitumen into synthetic crude that can be refined into fuel and other products.}

{How it works: Carbon Capture and Storage} Transcript

[Background music plays]

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{Animation of rising buildings and city traffic. Traffic signs with directions to Shell facilities on rural round surrounded by pine trees. Quest facility animation illustrating carbon capture process. Return to animation of city with multi-lane car traffic. Quest carbon capture and storage graphic. Shell logo fades out. }

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{Up here, too much CO2 is a problem. Quest Carbon Capture & Storage. Deep down there, we have a solution.}

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Speaker 1: (00:00)

Global demand for energy is increasing. And the challenge is to meet this demand while reducing our carbon footprint. Part of Shell's solution involves carbon capture and storage. And that's why we built Quest at our Scotford upgrader. The upgrader turns thick heavy oil from the oil sands called bitumen into synthetic crude. That can then be refined into everyday products like gasoline and jet fuel. Shell uses hydrogen to upgrade the bitumen to a lighter oil, but making hydrogen creates carbon dioxide, or CO2. Quest captures the CO2 from the upgraders hydrogen manufacturing plants with a product called amine that absorbs the CO2. The CO2 is then separated from the amine and pressurised to turn the CO2 gas into a liquid that can be transported by pipelines 65 kilometers north three well sites. At the wells, the liquid CO2 is injected more than two kilometers underground into a layer of rock filled with interconnected pores. The CO2 becomes trapped within the pores and locked in under many layers of solid watertight rock. Constant monitoring, both above and below ground, makes sure the CO2 stays safely and permanently in place. Quest is on track to capture and store over 1 billion tons of CO2 every year. That's equivalent to the emissions from about 250,000 cars. We know that up here, carbon dioxide is a big problem, but we believe deep down there lies an important part of the solution.

Measuring and monitoring Quest’s performance

Maintaining optimal risk management practices and procedures is critical for ensuring CCS effectiveness and environmental best-practices. Shell uses a first-of-its-kind monitoring technology that is conservative, comprehensive and measures impacts from the atmosphere through the geosphere. These monitoring technologies are risk-based and site-specific and their outputs are reviewed independently to ensure objectivity.

To learn more about how CO2 capture can help mobilise a clean hydrogen economy, read this Q&A article featuring Devin Shaw, Commercial Director – CO2 Capture & CCS, and Laurent Thomas, Licensing Technology Manager – Gas Processing and CO2 Capture Technologies.

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On-demand webinar: Drivers and strategy for developing CCS

To learn more about Shell’s experiences operating Quest and to better understand CCS drivers and strategy, watch the May 19th on-demand webinar. Syrie Crouch, VP Carbon Capture Storage – Shell U.K. Limited, and Simon O’Brien, Quest Subsurface Manager.

Watch the webinar