Friday, January 14, 2011

Carbon Capture: We Knew it Sounded too Good to be True

Various governments, including ours, and the oil and gas industry, have put a lot of money into the guesswork technology of carbon capture.

One pilot project, saw captured CO2 being piped 330km from a coal power station in Beulah, North Dakota, to the Weyburn oil field in Saskatchewan, where it was pumped underground to help extract oil, a process known as enhanced oil recovery.

But anything that sounds too good to be true probably is, and in Weyburn, there seems to be a bubbling crude, though not with good fortune for a couple whose property has a rumbling in it's tummy: Land fizzing like soda pop: farmer says CO2 injected underground is leaking
A Saskatchewan farm couple whose land lies over the world's largest carbon capture and storage project says greenhouse gases seeping from the soil are killing animals and sending groundwater foaming to the surface like shaken soda pop. The gases were supposed to have been injected permanently underground.

Cameron and Jane Kerr own nine quarter-sections of land above the Weyburn oilfield in eastern Saskatchewan. They released a consultant's report Tuesday that links high concentrations of carbon dioxide in their soil to 6,000 tonnes of the gas injected underground every day by energy giant Cenovus (TSX:CVE) in an attempt to enhance oil recovery and fight climate change.
And according to Nathan Vanderklippe in the Globe:
But what started as a series of worrisome problems on a rural Saskatchewan property has now raised serious questions about the safety of carbon sequestration and storage, a technology that has drawn billions in spending from governments and industry, which have promoted it as a salve to Canada’s growth in greenhouse-gas emissions.
But we were actually warned that something like this could happen. According to an article in the Economist in March of 2009:
Greenpeace, a pressure group, argues that it is impossible to be certain that carbon dioxide will not eventually leak out of the ground. Carbon dioxide forms an acid when it dissolves in water. This acid can react with minerals to form carbonates, locking away the carbon in a relatively inert state. But it can also eat through the man-made seals or geological strata intended to keep it in place. A leakage rate of just 1% a year, Greenpeace points out, would lead to 63% of the carbon dioxide stored in any given reservoir being released within 100 years, almost entirely undoing the supposed environmental benefit.
And yet they're still going ahead with plans for another carbon capture facility in Regina.

Tim Naumetz believes that the Environment could be 'sleeper' issue in next election. It has to be. No more fooling around.


  1. That is absolutely terrible. If the gas is killing the animals, those people should get out of there ASAP, so they don't get killed themselves, and then march right over to the Saskatchewan provincial legislature to talk to every NDP member in the place.
    This should be more than "worrisome" - this should be a scandal, whether it's a rural property or not. It should be a TV special, or a movie like "Erin Brockovich"!
    This is serious, stuff coming out of the ground and killing animals. And where is Greenpeace when you need them? They should have hordes of their people in Saskatchewan screaming bloody murder. Because it could come to that. If the people on that land die from CO2 poisoning, what is that, if it isn't murder?
    Injecting carbon dioxide into the soil every day? EVERY DAY? Good grief!

  2. I agree Kay. I think of CNN and if this was happening in the United States. They would be covering it for hours. But in Canada there is very little concern. Shocking.