Canada’s third-largest oil producer by market value, plans to reduce carbon emissions at its oil-sands operations by using the greenhouse gas to grow algae. Canadian Natural will partner with Pond Biofuels Inc., a Toronto-based biomass producer, and the National Research Council Canada on a pilot project in northern Alberta that will reduce CO2 output at the oil producer’s Horizon site by as much as 15 percent, President Steve Laut said in Calgary today.
Canadian oil-sands producers are under pressure to reduce the environmental footprint of bitumen production as rising output boosts greenhouse-gas emissions. The Alberta and Canadian governments have been promoting efforts to strengthen oil sands regulations while lobbying European Union officials who want to penalize fuel derived from Canadian bitumen as part of a proposed fuel-quality directive.
As part of the C$19 million ($18.78 million) project, carbon dioxide will be captured from flue gas and then fed into tanks with waste water and algae. Natural oils from the plants will be extracted and added to the oil, while the remaining biomass will be used as fertilizer for land reclamation, Joy Romero, Canadian Natural’s vice president of technology development, said in an interview.
The project will begin operations at the end of the year, she said.