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Shell launches Canadian carbon capture plant Quest

The company has officially launched its Quest CCS project in Alberta, designed to store more than 1m mt of carbon dioxide annually

The CO2 is transported through a 65-km pipeline and injected more than 2 km underground.

Built for the Athabasca Oil Sands Project joint-venture of Shell, Chevron and Marathon, Quest is estimated to have cost $1.35bn, including some 50% government funding (C$865m, $650m) without which it would never have been built. It already stored 200,000 tonnes of CO2 during testing earlier in 2015.

International Energy Agency executive director Fatih Birol hailed the launch of "the world’s first large-scale CCS that will reduce emissions from oil sands" as "particularly significant ahead of the [COP-21] Paris climate negotiations, as world leaders will be looking to strike a deal for deep emission reductions." Shell technology was previously used at the smaller Boundary Dam CCS opened in Saskatchewan in 2014. Shell is a partner too in the Chevron-run Gorgon LNG in Australia, opening next year, including a mandatory $2bn CCS scheme.

The launch was overshadowed by US President Barack Obama's definitive decision -- on 6 November, the same day as Quest's launch -- to axe the Keystone XL oil pipeline project from Alberta, which he said would have transported "dirtier oil".

Alberta premier Rachel Notley says she was "disappointed" at how the US government chose to characterize Canada's 3m barrels a day-plus exports to the US. "Canada can be a global source of environmentally responsible energy through better environmental policies, and Alberta will act to help make that happen in partnership with Canada's new federal government. We hope that future energy infrastructure projects will be debated on their own merits", she says.

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