It’s one of the biggest potential investments in this type of tech in Saskatchewan’s private-sector history.
There’s potentially a lot of money on the table but shovels haven’t hit the ground and a cheque has not been signed.
“We’re talking over $510 million at this time. Those sizes of projects don’t happen overnight. There’s a lot of variables, there’s a lot of modelling, there’s a lot of feasibilities that have to occur yet,” Federated Co-operatives Limited CEO Scott Banda said.
Last month, Co-op signed a memorandum of understanding to start the development of carbon-capture technology at its Regina refinery and ethanol complex near Belle Plaine, Sask.
The company intends to work with White Cap Resources to increase the amount of CO2 being captured and sequestered.
One University of Saskatchewan professor said much of the carbon capture currently taking place is used to pump more oil out of the ground.
“In the end, there’s another energy company at the other end of this that stands to make a profit by producing oil that they might not have otherwise been able to produce,” engineering professor Grant Ferguson said.
But Ferguson said if emissions are sequestered, it could play a major factor in the company reaching its emissions targets, which are reducing 2015 emissions by 40 per cent in the next nine years and becoming net-zero by 2050.
In 2019, all of Co-op’s entities emitted more than 2.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Ferguson noted companies who are looking to make these investments are taking a slight risk.
“Not knowing will they be compensated or what incentives will be there in the future for this, that could have pushed their decision in a different direction,” Ferguson said.
That’s something Co-op is anticipating that it will need in order to act on climate change, but they’re waiting on the rulebook.
“If we’re going to invest half a billion dollars or more into technologies and facilities, we better know that’s the direction that the regulatory environment is headed,” Banda said.
Co-op anticipates half a million tonnes of CO2 will be captured at the refinery and the ethanol complex if it’s completed by the current timeline of 2026.