Geoscience BC is working with partners to identify future priority geological CCS research.
View Geoscience BC CCS page
A carbon management industry can play a critical role in meeting both BC’s climate action and economic development objectives. This project was developed to address a lack of coordinated public information about geological formations suitable for long-term CO2 storage in BC’s portion of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) in BC’s Northeast Region. This information is needed to guide the province’s rapidly growing low-carbon energy and CCS sectors. The research project can inform CCS projects and support the development of a low-carbon hydrogen industry in BC.
Many recent technical studies exist in the public domain characterizing reservoirs within the WCSB. This project was built following seminal work by Bachu (2006) and has collated available public information and studies to provide an inventory of favourable geological CCS sites, along with an atlas of maps, and a comprehensive report identifying the most favourable formations and locations for carbon sequestration. The project has engaged industry, governments, communities, Indigenous groups and others to ensure awareness of information and to inform early-stage decisions.
This Energy project fits under Geoscience BC’s Strategic Objective of ‘Enabling Clean Energy’.
Specifically, the goals for this project were to:
- Coordinate the completion of an atlas that identifies and assesses potentially suitable geological carbon storage targets in the Northeast Region
- Establish a steering committee to convene a project advisory committee
- Complete a comprehensive final report that identifies and evaluates potential geological CCS targets that could reduce emissions from existing or future industrial projects in NE BC
- Execute an engagement program to help raise CCS awareness and strengthen relationships as well as help raise awareness of research project and CCS opportunities with interested groups in the project area (e.g. sectors, governments, communities and Indigenous groups)
Additional expected goals of a completed atlas were:
- Identification of most favourable geological sites for CO2 storage in NE BC
- Understanding of ultimate potential volumes that may be geologically stored in NE BC
- Acceleration of follow-up studies on geological CCS in NE BC and elsewhere in BC
- Provision of key information to enable improved decision-making for policy, regulation and industry
- Acceleration and enabling of CleanBC’s 0.6 megatonnes (Mt) per year of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) CCS targets
- Increasing awareness of CCS and opportunities in NE BC
The public information generated by the project is valuable to groups including low-carbon hydrogen producers, industry, governments, academia, communities and Indigenous groups who are working to meet emissions reduction targets.
Oversight for the Northeast BC Geological Carbon Capture and Storage Atlas project was provided by a Steering Committee of:
- Ged McLean, Executive Director, CICE and Yemi Adefulu, former Deputy Executive Director, CICE
- Guy Gensey, Director, Energy & Industrial Decarbonization, Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (EMLI)
- Gavin C. Dirom, President & CEO, Geoscience BC
- Chief Justin Napoleon, Chief, Saulteau First Nations
Technical input for the project was provided by a Project Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC developed a framework to identify and assess suitable geological CCS targets, ensuring that evaluation protocols conformed with analogous existing CCS projects in North America:
- Ron Stefik, Supervisor, Reservoir Engineering, BC Oil and Gas Commission
- Warren Walsh, Strategic Energy Manager, Energy and Industry Decarbonization, EMLI
- Sara McPhail, Sr. Petroleum Geologist, EMLI
- Sonya Dehler, Director, Geological Survey of Canada Atlantic, Natural Resources Canada
- Ron Hill, Director, New Exploration Ventures, Tourmaline Oil Corp.
- Santiago Arribas Picon, Technical Manager, Business Development, Enbridge
- Tim Shaw, Sr Advisor, Indigenous & Govt Relations & Energy Transition, NorthRiver Midstream
The project focused on the British Columbian portion of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin.
What Was Found
This project has produced a report and a series of maps summarizing CO2 sequestration target candidates in NE BC. For permanent CO2 storage, the report has identified saline aquifers sites and depleted or nearly-depleted natural gas pools potentially suitable for CCS, in 12 formations in the study area. A database for depleted pools and aquifers, that provides reservoir metrics and storage calculations is also available as part of the study.
The research identifies that 4,230 Mt of carbon dioxide could potentially be stored in formations in northeast British Columbia. There is significant potential for CO2 storage in depleted pools north and northeast of Fort St. John and in the far northeast of BC. There is also significant CO2 storage potential in deep saline aquifers in the Dawson Creek and Fort St. John area and south of Fort Nelson.
The report explains the difference between storage capacity (reservoir and pore space that is fully characterized and commercially viable) and storage potential (reservoir meets selected threshold criteria and is potentially suitable for storage). The atlas has identified the latter, listing sites with sufficient storage potential and providing preliminary quantification of the CO2 storage volume potential for each site.
An evaluation of geological CO2 storage potential was conducted on formations (or groups of formations in some cases), ranging from Devonian to Cretaceous. Specifically, the formations identified as having potential are Paddy/Cadotte; Spirit River; Bluesky; Cadomin-Gething; Nikanassin-Dunlevy; Baldonnel-Pardonet; Charlie Lake; Halfway; Belloy; Debolt; Jean Marie; and the Middle Devonian Carbonates. For each formation, a chapter examines geology, reservoir quality/conditions, and hydrodynamics of depleted pools and saline aquifers as well as a preliminary estimate of storage potential for each pool or aquifer.
As proximity to CO2 emitters, roads and pipelines must be a consideration in the determination of CCS viability, the atlas provides mapped information of CO2 emissions sites and volumes as well as the routes of major roads, railways and pipelines.
The study found that Northeast BC has significant geological CO2 sequestration storage potential, with many identified storage sites concentrated in key regional areas. Total calculated effective storage potential for depleted pools and a mid-range estimate for aquifer sites is greater than 4,000 M/t.
The study provides information that can guide next-step project evaluations as well as guide regulations and policies that support CCS and hydrogen development. It is also useful as a template for evaluation of other geological basins in BC.