The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL) system is the world’s newest integrated, large-scale carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) system.
Full System Scope
Designed as the backbone infrastructure needed to support a lower carbon economy in Alberta, it has the world’s largest capacity pipeline for CO₂ from human activity, capable of transporting up to 14.6 million tonnes of CO₂ per year. This represents approximately 20% of all current oil sands emissions or equal to the impact of capturing CO₂ from more than 3 million cars in Alberta.
The ACTL system currently captures CO₂ at the North West Redwater Partnership (NWR) Sturgeon Refinery and Nutrien’s Redwater Fertilizer Facility, offering a sustainable emissions solution for energy and agriculture sectors. The CO₂ is safely transported to mature oil fields in Central Alberta for use in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) before permanent storage.
Not only does the ACTL system remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere and decrease Canada’s carbon footprint, it uses the captured CO₂ to revitalize a light oil industry, leveraging numerous suitable storage reservoirs in the province, technical expertise and innovative spirit to create thousands of new jobs, and generate meaningful tax revenue.
Designed with excess capacity, the system will connect more facilities and storage reservoirs in the future as demand increases for an effective solution to manage emissions
Two industrial facilities located in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland are the anchor CO₂ supply partners for the ACTL system. The North West Redwater Partnership (NWR) Sturgeon Refinery and Nutrien’s Redwater Fertilizer Facility provide ~1.6 million tonnes per year of high purity CO₂. The CO₂ is captured, separated and compressed in preparation for transportation through the ACTL pipeline.
The Sturgeon Refinery is the world’s only refinery designed from the outset to minimize its environmental footprint through carbon capture. Phase 1 of the new refinery captures approximately 1.3 million tonnes of CO₂ per year. Because of its carbon capture solution, diesel produced at the Sturgeon Refinery is the lowest “wells-to-wheels” CO₂ transportation fuel based on heavy feedstock.
The Redwater Fertilizer Facility captures approximately 0.3 million tonnes of previously vented CO₂ per year. Nutrien has used carbon capture since 2013 as a technical option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions at their Geismar, LA facility, diverting more than 248,000 tonnes of CO₂ from the atmosphere in 2019.
The ACTL is the world’s largest capacity pipeline for CO₂ from human activity, capable of transporting up to 14.6 million tonnes of CO₂ per year. Owned and operated by Wolf Midstream, this 240-kilometre pipeline safely transports CO₂ from the current capture and compression sites to aging oil reservoirs in Central Alberta for enhanced oil recovery and secure permanent storage. The ACTL pipeline is the core of an expandable network built to support significant future emissions solutions and new utilization pathways.
Captured CO₂ is being utilized by Enhance Energy and injected into depleted oil reservoirs for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), kick-starting an innovative new industry of converting an industrial waste product into a valuable feedstock. Enhance is the owner and operator of the Clive field in Alberta where CO₂ will recover 15-20% of the original oil in place trapped within the reservoir before being permanently stored.
The process of EOR using CO₂ is not new: industry has nearly 50 years of experience with injected CO₂ for EOR in the continental U.S. The CO₂ is injected into a carefully selected hydrocarbon reservoir, which results in oil being flushed from the pore spaces in the reservoir rock and ‘pushed’ to the production wells where it is pumped to the surface and recovered.
Permanent CO₂ Storage
Depleted oil and gas reservoirs are secure storage spaces for CO₂. Each storage site is studied and monitored to ensure there is no possibility of leakage. Over time, the injected CO₂ will dissolve in water contained in the rock formation and a portion will combine chemically with the rocks which traps the CO₂ even more securely.
The CO₂ at Clive is stored approximately 2 kilometres below the earth’s surface, where reservoirs previously held oil and gas for tens of millions of years. This is well below freshwater aquifers and drinking water sources, resulting in no chance of contamination.
Storing CO₂ in depleted reservoirs is proven to be safe. The Weyburn-Midale CO₂ Project in Saskatchewan has safely injected over 30 million tonnes of CO₂ to date. The US EOR industry has safely injected over 800 million tonnes of CO₂.