Boundary Dam Integrated Carbon Capture and Sequestration Demonstration Project

Boundary Dam Integrated Carbon Capture and Sequestration Demonstration Project


Capture: SaskPower – the Saskatchewan Government is the sole owner

Transport and Storage: Cenovus Energy has constructed a pipeline to transport the CO2 on behalf of the Weyburn Oil Unit partners. SaskPower owns an onsite disposal well, otherwise known as Aquistore.

LOCATION: Saskatchewan, Canada

CO2 capture source: Production Unit 3 at the Boundary Dam coal–fired power station near Estevan

CO2 storage site: Primary site is at the Weyburn Oil Unit, northwest of the Boundary Dam power station

INDUSTRY (FEEDSTOCK): Power generation (lignite / brown coal)


CO2 CAPTURE CAPACITY VOLUME: 1 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa)

CAPTURE TYPE: Post-combustion capture

CAPTURE METHOD: Absorption chemical solvent-based process (Amine), Shell Global Cansolv technology

NEW BUILD OR RETROFIT: Retrofit (to a generating unit recently refurbished)


PRIMARY STORAGE OPTION: Enhanced oil recovery

STORAGE FORMATION AND DEPTH: Weyburn Oil Unit – oil-bearing formation at 1.5 km / 1 mile depth

Excess CO2 to the Aquistore project – Winnipeg and Deadwood formations at 3.2 km / 2 mile depth

TRANSPORTATION TYPE: Pipeline (onshore to onshore)


      Excess CO2 - 2 km / 1.2 miles to the Aquistore project

Project description

SaskPower is the principal electric utility in Saskatchewan, Canada. SaskPower has a net generating capacity of around 3,500 megawatts (MW) from 18 generating facilities, including three coal–fired base load facilities, six natural gas–fired facilities, seven hydroelectric facilities and two wind power facilities.

Boundary Dam is the largest of the coal–fired facilities and, at the end of 2013 (following the retirement of Unit 1 in May 2013 and refurbishment of Unit 3 with carbon capture), had five operating units with a net generating capacity of around 730 MW. The coal feedstock for the plant is mined about 13 km / 7.8 miles from the plant.

Production Unit 3, with an original net generating capacity of 139 MW, was built in 1969 and scheduled for closure in 2013, after almost 45 years in service.

A number of coal–fired generation option studies have been undertaken to evaluate how best to meet the province’s future energy needs. Saskatchewan has an estimated economically recoverable 300–year supply of (lignite) coal. Lignite coal is an important part of the province’s energy supply and accounts for just under 47 per cent of provincial electricity production. Different development options, plant locations, generation capacities and technologies have been, and continue to be, evaluated.

In early 2008, the provincial government announced that it would proceed with plans for refurbishment of Production Unit 3 at Boundary Dam in concert with a fully integrated carbon capture system. Final approval for the refurbishment of the power island was given in December 2010 and for the carbon capture and storage facilities in April 2011.

The refurbishment of Production Unit 3 included, among other things, boiler modifications and replacement of the old steam turbine with a new state-of-the-art turbine that is integrated with the CO2 and sulphur dioxide (SO2) removal mechanism. After allowing for the energy requirements of the capture plant, net generating capacity for Production Unit 3 is now around 110 MW. The refurbishment is expected to extend the life of Production Unit 3 by at least 30 years, if not more.

Removal of the SO2 and CO2 streams uses regenerative amine technologies and takes place in a two-stage process. Firstly, the flue gas is desulphurised, releasing a pure stream of SO2 that is further processed on site and provides feedstock to a 60 tonne per day sulphuric acid plant, which is to be sold as a byproduct. The CO2 removal process follows after the flue gas has been desulphurised.

The application of capture facilities will reduce CO2 emissions from Production Unit 3 by up to 90 per cent and, when fully operational, capture 1 Mtpa of CO2. The purity of the CO2 prior to transport is 95 per cent.

Mechanical completion of the carbon capture facilities was in December 2013 with commissioning activities beginning thereafter. The completion of the power plant refurbishment occurred in the second quarter of 2014. Overall operation of the Demonstration Project is planned for late in the second quarter or early third quarter of 2014.

This is the largest project in the history of SaskPower. The original cost estimate for the refurbishment of Unit 3 and integration of carbon capture technologies was CAN$1.24 billion, of which approximately two-thirds was accounted for by the CO2 capture facilities. In October 2013, press reports indicated the total project cost had risen to around CAN$1.4 billion due to unexpected challenges with the power plant refurbishment component of the project, and the slower than anticipated commissioning process.

The CO2 captured from Production Unit 3 will be used primarily for EOR at the Weyburn Oil Unit and will supplement the existing CO2 supply to the Weyburn–Midale fields delivered by the 330 km / 205 mile Souris Valley pipeline from a gasification facility in North Dakota (see Great Plains Synfuel Plant and Weyburn-Midale Project).

In December 2010, SaskPower announced it had reached an agreement with Cenovus, on behalf of its partners in the Weyburn Oil Unit, to purchase approximately 1 Mtpa of CO2 for 10 years. The CO2 will be transported the 66 km / 41 miles to Weyburn by the new purpose-built Rafferty CO2 pipeline. Cenovus, on behalf of its partners, has built and will operate the pipeline.

Any CO2 from the project that is not used in EOR will be injected into a deep saline formation through SaskPower’s Carbon Storage and Research Centre (CSRC). The CSRC hosts the Aquistore project, which is currently managed by the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC). The Aquistore project is located in the Williston Basin. The targeted injection zones for the project are the Winnipeg and Deadwood formations. Two wells – one injector and one monitoring – have been drilled into the formation at intervals of about 150 metres / 495 feet and to a depth of 3.2 km / 2 miles.

Key project milestones

February 2008: Province of Saskatchewan announces SaskPower will proceed with refurbishment of Production Unit 3 at Boundary Dam, including application of a carbon capture system.

February 2008: The Canadian Government allocates CAN$264 million to the project.

December 2010: SaskPower formally approves the refurbishment of Production Unit 3 at Boundary Dam.

April 2011: SaskPower formally approves construction of the carbon capture system at Production Unit 3.

December 2012: SaskPower and Cenovus announce Cenovus will purchase approximately 1 Mtpa of CO2 captured at Production Unit 3 for 10 years.

December 2013: Mechanical completion of carbon capture system

June 2013: Power plant refurbishment complete and on line

Project data is current as at 08/07/2014