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CO2 emissions monitoring

CO2 emissions monitoring
confidential oil sands client
Alberta, Canada

A confidential oil-sands client hired Barr to develop a program for monitoring and quantifying greenhouse gas (GHG) loading and emissions from tailings basins. The project is designed to identify both the release of CO2 from the tailings basin and CO2 sequestration in the basin.

The primary objective of the monitoring program is to determine the fate of CO2. This includes quantifying the amount of CO2 emitted and sequestered after tailings are discharged, and then constructing a mass balance for CO2.

Because CO2 emissions relative to the discharge process used at this facility had not been monitored and quantified at a similar scale, there was no formulaic solution to follow. Barr developed a phased plan by applying our experience monitoring large emission sources and our knowledge of oil-sands tailings deposition and emissions-related tailings geochemistry. Our three-phase approach consisted of:

  1. a site visit, with preliminary air measurements, during which we used portable equipment and conducted confirmatory sampling of pore-water chemistry at pilot and full scales

  2. a technology evaluation of the available long-term air monitoring equipment, based on the observations and constraints obtained from the site visit

  3. procurement, installation, and operation of the monitoring system

Barr has completed the first two phases of the program, which relied on using portable gas samplers to identify the magnitude of concentrations that could be expected with the discharge of tailings, as well as atmospheric concentrations of CO2, CH4, and VOCs. We used this background information to assess sensitivity requirements for the monitoring equipment.