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Powerful partnership inked between SaskPower and BHP Billiton

It’s a relationship being forged to spread useful information connected to providing a cleaner environment. On Sept.
Delegates from over 21 different countries took a tour showcasing the carbon capture projects and technology in place at the Boundary Dam and Shand power station sites as part of a symposium hosted by SaskPower in association with the international Energy Agency.

It’s a  relationship being forged to spread useful information connected to providing a cleaner environment. 

On Sept. 11, SaskPower and BHP Billiton signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will subsequently lead to a contract that creates a partnership to accelerate global development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. 

“It’s a multi-year commitment that will involve multi-millions of dollars that we just can’t reveal right now, but will, as soon as the contract is completed and signed,” said Mike Monea, president of carbon capture and storage initiatives, whose signature is on the MOU along with that of SaskPower president and CEO Mike Marsh and BHP Billiton’s chief commercial officer, Dean Dalla Valle. 

Monea said the intent of the agreement is to “lower barriers for others to get involved with SaskPower because BHP will help build and run a global networking cycle regarding our Boundary Dam clean coal project. It’s not necessarily research driven, but the significance is in the validation for BD3 and our ability to tell the story to the world.” 

BD3 is the world’s first full chain power sector CCS project and it was no accident the agreement was signed in the midst of an international energy and environment conference staged in Regina that was attracting delegates from up to 30 countries. 

BHP will contribute to the establishment of a global knowledge centre to help promote research and reduce the cost and risk associated with new CCS projects. 

“There are many nuggets of knowledge to be found around the world on this subject so as we build the network and advance CCS, we expect there will be a return, a sharing of knowledge on this subject. There will be collaboration agreements and approvals going forward,” said Monea. 

The research facility at the Shand Power Station will also come into play within the agreement, to be used as a conduit for those who want to conduct research within realistic conditions at a commercial power generating station. The nearby underground storage facility, Aquistore, also enters to play a significant role in the overall plan. 

“To respond effectively to climate change, we must develop and deploy a wide range of low emissions technologies more quickly than the usual commercial timeframes. But progress remains too slow.

“The individual components of CCS have been successfully demonstrated for many years, but Boundary Dam is the first power project to bring all these together. Much more investment and many more projects are needed to bring down the cost of technology and accelerate its deployment. By making relevant information from Boundary Dam more widely available, we hope our contribution has a multiplier effect and promotes CCS investment around the world. 

“We continue to assess other investments to support the development of CCS and other low emissions technology as part of our commitment to take action on climate change,” said Dalla Valle. 

“We have a master plan developing with BHP. once this is established, this could bring in partners for actual work and trigger technical and funding agencies to get involved. There will be a link to our universities and there will be lifestyles and public policy issues that will all become a part of this. It’s pretty exciting,” said Monea. “We’ve been told we have the nucleus here, Estevan is the epicenter for a great product, so we have to get the rules out there so they can engage with us properly.” 

In welcoming the partnership, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said, “We’re very happy to have BHP Billiton and SaskPower seek to partner on next steps, and make CCS more accessible to the world. With private enterprises like BHP Billiton investing in low emissions technology, we are turning the tide today in Saskatchewan and tomorrow around the world.” 

“SaskPower’s CCS journey began more than a decade ago, and today we’re proud to develop this exciting opportunity,” said Marsh. 

Giles Hellyer, president of BHP Billiton Canada Inc., said he was proud that his company was seeking to partner with a local organization to achieve excellent work that is firmly aligned with BHP Billiton’s climate change position. 

“As the home of our Jansen Potash project, we have a strong connection with and commitment to Saskatchewan and it’s great to see some of the innovative work being done in the region recognized globally as part of such an important effort to reduce the world’s emissions.”

Hellyer went on to say, “We know there is still much more to be done in CCS, but we are encouraged by the results we are seeing today, and the innovations we are working on for tomorrow. The Boundary Dam project offers lessons for all of us, and we look forward to being a part of it.” 

Monea added that at this juncture, “the big thing is operational data … what went into building this plant and the modifications that had to be made. European Union countries and companies are linking up to this and they want access to operational information and we will share all of that, but we need a main agreement such as this one with BHP, then a sign up with other agencies and countries to do applied research work.” 

Monea explained that “this is not esoteric. We want real movement on CCS we will approve items we can jointly work on, get with the program, and then we can link around the world.” 

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