The Quest Carbon Capture Project

Simon O’Brien

Simon O’Brien
Shell Canada

Monday, June 20th, 2016 – 11:30 AM
Calgary Petroleum Club, Devonian Room (+15 Level), 319 5 Ave SW


In September 2012, Shell, on behalf of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project venture (Shell Canada Energy, Chevron Canada Limited, Marathon Oil Canada Corporation), announced that it was proceeding to construct the Quest Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project near Fort Saskatchewan. Quest will capture more than one million tonnes of CO2 per year from the Scotford Upgrader, becoming the world’s first large-scale commercial application of CCS at an oil sands operation. It is a fully integrated project, involving CO2 capture at the bitumen upgrader, transportation along a 65 km pipeline, and CO2 storage in a deep saline aquifer (the Basal Cambrian Sands).  The Quest project achieved full commercial operation in September 2015.

This presentation will provide an overview of the Quest project, including how CCS fits into the global climate debate, how the project was developed and constructed, and how the project has performed in its first year of operation.  It will focus especially on the Measurement, Monitoring and Verification (MMV) program. The MMV program is extremely comprehensive, with a variety of technologies being used to monitor the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and geosphere.  Geophysics has played a particularly important role in the geosphere component, with surface seismic and DAS VSPs being used to assess the development of the CO2 plume, and a microseismic array being used to measure any induced seismic activity (there has been none).

Operationally, the Quest start-up has been very smooth; by February, we had injected more than 500,000 tonnes of CO2 with no signs of any issues – in fact, the reservoir has even slightly exceeded our expectations.  The target of capturing and storing more than 25 million tonnes over 25 years looks very achievable.


Simon O’Brien graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) in Geophysics from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1987. He then attended the University of British Columbia, where he worked on refraction data from the Mackenzie Delta, completing an M.Sc. in 1990, and later returned to Memorial, developing a multiple attenuation approach for marine seismic processing,  graduating with a Ph.D. in 1997.

Simon joined Shell Canada in 1997 and has worked in seismic processing, new technology development, depth imaging and quantitative interpretation for more than 18 years. His work has included a wide variety of projects; structural and stratigraphic, conventional and unconventional, onshore and offshore from across Canada and the United States. He is now in the role of Quest Storage Manager, overseeing the subsurface aspects of the Quest CCS project.