CO2 sequestration 'splodes in Saskatchewan

Click for details

From the “nobody could convince them it was a bad idea in the first place” department…

UPDATE: More details now emerging – see below the read more line

The Canadian Press – ONLINE EDITION

Carbon injected underground now leaking, Saskatchewan farmer’s study says

By: Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

A Saskatchewan farm couple whose land lies over the world’s largest carbon capture and storage project says greenhouse gases that were supposed to have been injected permanently underground are leaking out, killing animals and sending groundwater foaming to the surface like shaken-up soda pop.

Cameron and Jane Kerr, who own nine quarter-sections of land above the Weyburn oilfield in eastern Saskatchewan, released a consultant’s report Tuesday that claims to link high concentrations of carbon dioxide in their soil to the 8,000 tonnes of the gas injected underground every day by energy giant Cenovus in its attempt to enhance oil recovery and fight climate change.

“We knew, obviously, there was something wrong,” said Jane Kerr.

Cameron Kerr, 64, said he has farmed in the area all his life and never had any problems until 2003, when he agreed to dig a gravel quarry.

That gravel was for a road to a plant owned by EnCana — now Cenovus — which had begun three years earlier to inject massive amounts of carbon dioxide underground to force more oil out of the aging field.

Cenovus has injected more than 13 million tonnes of the gas underground. The project has become a global hotspot for research into carbon capture and storage, a technology that many consider one of the best hopes for keeping greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

By 2005, Cameron Kerr had begun noticing problems in a pair of ponds which had formed at the bottom of the quarry. They developed algae blooms, clots of foam and several colours of scum — red, yellow and silver-blue. Sometimes, the ponds bubbled. Small animals — cats, rabbits, goats — were regularly found dead a few metres away.

Then there were the explosions.

“At night we could hear this sort of bang like a cannon going off,” said Jane Kerr, 58. “We’d go out and check the gravel pit and, in the walls, it (had) blown a hole in the side and there would be all this foaming coming out of this hole.”

Read the entire story here

UPDATE: The Winnepeg Free Press has far more details in this story here

He said provincial inspectors did a one-time check of air quality. Eventually, the Kerrs paid a consultant for a study.

Paul Lafleur of Petro-Find Geochem found carbon dioxide concentrations in the soil last summer that averaged about 23,000 parts per million — several times those typically found in field soils. Concentrations peaked at 110,607 parts per million.

Lafleur also used the mix of carbon isotopes he found in the gas to trace its source.

“The … source of the high concentrations of CO2 in the soils of the Kerr property is clearly the anthropogenic CO2 injected into the Weyburn reservoir,” he wrote.

“The survey also demonstrates that the overlying thick cap rock of anhydrite over the Weyburn reservoir is not an impermeable barrier to the upward movement of light hydrocarbons and CO2 as is generally thought.”

It reminds me of this 1965 sci-fi movie:

h/t to WUWT reader AnonyMoose

Update: Reader _Jim finds the trailer:


newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Can I say it: “Good gas gone bad.

Pull My Finger

Gee, no one could see THAT coming…. duh.

sarah from saskatchewan

This is great news, we could do with a bit of climate warming in Saskatchewan

Henry chance

Obama approved the Future Gen Coal plant in Illinois for his friends. It has both carbon sequestration and incredible cost overruns. Let see how that “experiment” plays out. Surely they will have to drive trucks past a picketing james Hansen.

Douglas DC

“I really hate it when the R&D Dept makes for the front door.”
Old- cartoon.
Then people wonder why there is little confidence in the whole scheme…


As a Canadian, I can’t help but laugh.
“Paul Lafleur of Petro-Find Geochem found carbon dioxide concentrations in the soil last summer that averaged about 23,000 parts per million — several times those typically found in field soils. Concentrations peaked at 110,607 parts per million.”

The Alberta government has committed $2 billion to similar pilot projects in Alberta. The United States has committed $3.4 billion for carbon capture and storage.
Norway has been injecting carbon dioxide into the sea floor since 1996. There are carbon capture and storage tests planned in Australia, Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom, China and Japan.
“I would like to see it stopped,” Jane Kerr said. “I don’t think it’s doing what it’s supposed to do.”

I don’t think I’m supposed to laugh, but I can’t help it.

Carbonated well water – time to set up a bottling plant.

Crack in the World – Trailer:

REPLY: Thanks! – added – Anthony

This is stupid, but the orbitting mirrors to reflect sunlight away from the Earth still remains the number 1 stupid idea of all time.


Thing is that ‘they’ want to do the same stupidity here in The Netherlands. Pump CO2 underground hoping they can resolve the climate challenge (change or whatever term comes next…).

Stephen Brown

Underground sequestration of CO2?


See now the problem here is the government just likely went with the lowest bidder for CO2 Sequestration. If only they had contacted me, I would quote them a more honest price and do a truly high-quality job if sequestering their CO2. I’m sure the Canadian government doesn’t want to be caught looking like the big destroyers of earth letting all that CO2 run wild, so I’ll submit my new quote to them post-haste.


The plants and algae are blooming from the increased CO2 concentration… but the animals are dying!
CO2 accumulation in your basement is much worst than Radon. They will need to put in CO2 detectors in their houses now and use those badges that change color when they take a walk outside.
I prefer my CO2 diluted in the atmosphere rather than at high concentration at ground level.

R. Shearer

On the plus side trees are growing like crazy.
Anyway, the leaking ought to be detectable at the injection wellhead. It would seem that there is a “challenge” with the local geology. That does not mean that sequestration will not work elsewhere. Flooding with CO2 is not new and can be successful.


Somewhere, on a planet far, far away, there’s a TV show called “Stupid Earthling Tricks.”

R. Gates

I’m skeptical that CO2 could kill any animals as the effect would be logarithmic and would amount to very little effect even at high concentrations. I would look toward solar or ocean influences…it’s natural variation.
REPLY: You also aren’t very good at looking beyond your nose:
CO2 is of course heavier than air, the gravel pit makes a perfect trap for small animals and unsuspecting humans.
Read up on Lake Nyos and Lake Kivu. Note the pictures of the dead animals here.
Then tell us again how CO2 in high concentrations leaking out of the ground aren’t a problem. CO2 bubbling out of the ground from any source, be it natural or sequestered, will find any low spots on the surface, and any living things in that low spot have the potential to be killed by asphyxiation. Even something as simple as making wine can kill you if you allow the CO2 to collect around you. It only takes 8% air concentration to kill you in about 10 minutes. See this hazmat source.
However, I predict you’ll try to save face and come up with some lame excuse as to why your version of “no worries” is right and we are wrong to be concerned.


Who could have guessed?
What a waste of money/energy!


Interestingly, part of the research that I have been involved in deals with measuring fugitive emissions such as CO2. We had actually contacted these people at Weyburn Saskatchewan with a proposal to monitoring possible escaping gases. They never gave us the time of day.
Another interesting tidbit…David Suzuki (the off-the-wall enviro-nut) even slammed the nonsensical idea of burying CO2 underground as we don’t have any idea of what its effects may be.


From ghostbusters :



This is exactly the sort of lunacy that ensues when one has people thinking up solutions to non-existent problems.
What percentage of global CO2 emissions is pumped down that pipe? I bet it is measured in less than a second of global man made emissions. It is doing absolutely nothing on a global scale yet probably costs a considerable amount of money to operate and maintain.

David Y

OMG–I remember that movie; great for getting a kid’s imagination going. Thanks for the trip back to early youth!


Now I have to watch “Crack in the World”. Think Netflix has it?

Jim Cole

Bad news for the cows (if confirmed), BUT the farmer’s crop yields ought to fantastic.
Growing things are the only sensible “carbon sequestration”, not that it really matters. CO2 doesn’t drive anything (except the head on your beer).
But at least adding CO2 to agriculture has a positive benefit.

Dr T G Watkins

Dead animals may have been killed by sudden hypoxia due to high concentrations of heavier than air CO2.
I seem to remember a tragic incident in Africa in which several people died near a lake which discharged dense gas – ? CO2, CH4 or CO – memory fails me.
Checked Wiki Lake Nyos 1700 people killed by CO2 asphyxiation.

Papa Bear

Here are a couple quiz questions for people who still believe in carbon sequestration under habitable lands:
How do you know when the chosen substrate (which you have carefully tested/validated) is unsuitable?
How long does the carbon have to be sequestered?
This situation looks like it has answered both questions: you know you have failed AFTER you have already sequestered your full design capacity of CO2.
It seems that there are only 2 options left at this time:
1. Immediately vent the CO2 into the atmosphere.
2. Wait until someone is killed and then vent the CO2 into the atmosphere.


I enjoyed the movie trialer…I recall seeing that movie as a teenager. pretty well done and a message…………..Don’t mess around with God (mother earth, nature, etc)!


“The survey also demonstrates that the overlying thick cap rock of anhydrite over the Weyburn reservoir is not an impermeable barrier to the upward movement of light hydrocarbons and CO2 as is generally thought.”
Light hydrocarbons are explosive. Would that be methane? The increased pressure underground due to the CO2, is likely responsible for this possibly horrendous environmental disaster. Will o the wisps anyone.


In the next sci-fi thriller the windmills will stop the earth’s rotation and we will become like mercury. One side will always face the sun the other side will freeze.


Fizzy water from Sask. Someone could market that stuff to the latté-drinking alarmists. Talk about a carbon shift.

Well, if it was just a bad 1965 movie, who cares?
But it is in fact the official policy of the Norwegian government to “sequester” and bury underground CO2. Here, from the 2007 New Year’s speech by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, quoted from the official Norwegian Government website (translation below):
“store deler av landet har vi hatt de varmeste høst- og vintermånedene på over hundre år. Vi merker det i det daglige nå: Skiene har fått stå i fred. Barn lager ikke snømenn. Forskerne varsler om at isbjørnen er truet.
I England brukte de før i tiden kanarifugler som varslere for gruvearbeiderne. Når kanarifuglene sluttet kvitre, var det et varsel om dårlig luft i gruvegangene og arbeiderne måtte komme seg ut.
I vår tid er det ikke gule kanarifugler som varsler at noe er galt, men gule hestehov der snøen skulle ligge. Avisen Nordland kunne i desember fortelle om en forvirret vårblomst som var funnet i en grøftekant. Dette er et varsel vi må ta på alvor. Vi frykter at noe er galt med været.
Vi må ta vårt ansvar. Klimautslippene må ned. Norge påtar seg en pionerrolle når vi har bestemt at gasskraftverket på Mongstad skal ha rensing av klimagassen CO2. Vi skal gjøre dette mulig.
Da president Kennedy sa at amerikanerne skulle lande på månen innen 10 år, hadde ikke amerikanerne vært ute i verdensrommet. De kom til månen innen 10 år. De satte seg mål. Og de nådde målene.
Vår visjon er at vi innen 7 år skal få på plass den teknologien som gjør det mulig å rense utslipp av klimagasser. Det blir et viktig gjennombrudd for å få ned utslippene i Norge, og når vi lykkes tror jeg verden vil følge etter.
Dette er et stort prosjekt for landet. Det er vår månelanding.
Utslipp av klimagasser kjenner ingen landegrenser. Derfor kan heller ikke løsningene styres av landegrenser. Vi skal både redusere våre egne utslipp og bidra til å redusere utslippene i andre land. Det skal vi gjøre på mange forskjellige måter.
Regjeringen har besluttet at når ansatte i staten reiser med fly internasjonalt, så skal vi kjøpe klimakvoter for de utslippene reisen forårsaker.”
Google translation (with a little help), of the Jan 2007 speech:
“Large parts of the country have had the warmest autumn and winter months of over a hundred years. We notice it daily now: The skis have got to rest. Children do not make snowmen. The scientists warning that polar bears are threatened.
In England they used in the past canaries as detectors for the miners. When the canary birds stopped chirping, there was a warning of bad air in the mine and the workers had to get out.
In our time it is not yellow canaries warning that something is wrong, but yellow coltsfoots [? a spring flower] where the snow would lie. Nordland newspaper in December could tell about a confused spring flower that was found in a ditch. This is a warning we must take seriously. We fear that something is wrong with the weather.
We must take our responsibility. Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced. Norway assumes a pioneering role when we have determined that the gas power plant at Mongstad will be purification of the greenhouse gas CO2. We will make this possible.
When President Kennedy said that Americans would land on the Moon within 10 years, Americans had not been out in space. They came to the Moon within 10 years. They set goals. And they reached the objectives.
Our vision is that within 7 years we must have in place the technology that makes it possible to clean the emissions of greenhouse gases. There will be an important breakthrough for reducing emissions in Norway, and when we succeed, I think the world will follow.
This is a major project for the country. It is our moon landing.
Emissions of greenhouse gases know no national boundaries. Therefore, no solutions are governed by national borders. We must both reduce our own emissions and help reduce emissions in other countries. It will do in many different ways.
The Government has decided that when employees in the state travel by air internationally, we will buy quotas for the emissions.”
This is referred to as Stoltenbergs “moon landing speech”. Somehow, it is suspected he will some day regret it.

Greg, San Diego, CA

I think that the most ironic thing is that in the movie “Crack in the World”, the United Nations is involved in this hairbrained scheme to drill through the earth’s crust into the mantle and allow molten magma to reach the surface intentionally!
Seems as if the UN has been meddling for a long time into natural processes to try to control them – or control us!

R. Gates

R. Gates says:
January 11, 2011 at 11:08 am
I’m skeptical that CO2 could kill any animals as the effect would be logarithmic and would amount to very little effect even at high concentrations. I would look toward solar or ocean influences…it’s natural variation.
REPLY: You also aren’t very good at looking beyond your nose:
Thanks, but some did catch the fact that I was being sarcastic.
REPLY: Yeah, sure. Then use the /sarc tag so people don’t waste time with you, some of your statements here are so off the wall we can’t really tell what you might be thinking.
24 hour penalty box for you – bye

R. Gates


Michael T

for R. Gates,
You might want to visit Horshoe Lake, Mammoth, California but if you love your pet dog keep him on a leash otherwise he/she might be joining the other animals killed by the non-existent CO2

HO, HO,HO,!!!……..
This is a secret conspiracy…to kill us all from laughing. LOL!

Nobody has ever thought that if gases as radon seep up from the bottom of Earth, CO2 would do the same thing? Don’t they having working brains?

.. and what, ultimately, is all this captured carbon for?

Billy Liar

R. Gates says:
January 11, 2011 at 11:08 am
I don’t normally read your posts but that one was very witty!
Pity Anthony did not recognize your humor.
REPLY: Like I said, many of his statements in the past have been way out there. This didn’t seem any different from some of his past missives.
This is why it is important to use the /sarc tag. Satire delivered onstage and in person has cues we pick up on, writing, not so much. I’ve given him a time-out for wasting my time believing he was sincere.
– Anthony

How many pounds of carbon will be launched into the atmosphere designing, manufacturing, installing, operating, maintaining, and decommisioning a CO2 sequestration project versus how many pounds of carbon will be sequestered?
Answer,……. anyone?

Six Stages of a Research Project:
1) Enthusiasm;
2) Euphoria;
3) Doubt;
4) Search for the guilty;
5) Punishment for the innocent; and,
6) Praise and honor for the non-participants.
Been there; done that; wore out the t-shirt.

I was struck by this comment;
“Paul Lafleur of Petro-Find Geochem found carbon dioxide concentrations in the soil last summer that averaged about 23,000 parts per million — several times those typically found in field soils. Concentrations peaked at 110,607 parts per million.”
Are those concentrations correct? Would we expect to see typical concentrations in other field soils to average around 8000 parts per million?


I understand that Anthony feels pissed, but banning R. Gates for a rather funny remark is unfair, IMHO. Anthony, please let him in again! [snip. This was not a contest. ~dbs, mod.]


sending groundwater foaming to the surface like shaken-up soda pop
I suppose in an odd twist of irony, they could bottle it and sell it back to the same wack jobs that buy that stuff………

Paul Deacon

I would have thought a lawsuit by the landowner would be quite effective in this case. Including of course asking as part of the remedy for all sequestered carbon to be removed from under the land.


I know people whose work depends heavily on the carbon capture scheme here in Canada. Oh my. They weren’t very convinced to start with but hey, the proverbial gravy train has been rolling steadily for them…

BobW in NC

RE: animals dying. Physiologically, CO2 stimulates breathing as the partial pressure in the bloodstream rises (try rebreathing from a paper bag for illustration). This mechanism is the body’s way of dealing with the higher than normal CO2 concentrations (hypercapnia), and will blow off excess CO2 under normal conditions. However, there is a true tipping point. Beyond a certain bloodstream concentration, CO2 becomes lethally toxic, producing narcosis through asphyxia (lack of oxygen) as well as causing the blood to become acidic. Thus, breathing high concentrations such as could be found in the bottom of the gravel quarry could rapidly cause unconsciousness and lead to death.
Unintended consequences, anyone?


In Alberta they are doing it as well. Here is my plan! Give away trees and shrubs to all the people in Alberta & Saskatchewan. CO2 sequestration solved! It would be money better spent.

UK John

Just a point worth exploring! before we all get too excited!
Methane leaks into the soil have the same effect as CO2 and it kills the trees as well.


I have followed the AGW issue for many, many years. I didn’t believe in it back then and I believe in it less today but I have an idea to clean up exhaust from coal fired power plants. First of all, the cheapest elec. is from hydro. The second cheapest is coal. The US has a 300 yr supply of coal & coal plants are indispensable to keep rates low for average people.
So here’s the idea: make the smoke stack square section and angle a portion of it at, say, 30 or 45 degrees (an engineer could figure this out). At the bottom of the angled square section install numerous trays across it so as to catch water from rainfalls above. The exh. gases would have to pass through those rainfalls. Gases enter and leaves water easily which is why one can have a gold fish bowl. The rainfalls would accept the gases & we all know how clean the air feels after a rainfall. I don’t know how this would deal with mercury although I suspect it would enter the water and a chemist might come up with something. I suspect sulfur dioxide would enter the water & that would easily be dealt with by a buffering agent. The water would certainly take up CO from the exh. & being unstable it would recycle into CO2 & of course it would pick up the CO2.
The water would be cycled through several holding tanks outside the powerplant & the high CO2 content should spawn luxuriant algae growth. Individual tanks could be periodically drained, the algae harvested & turned into compost as a fertilizer. People wouldn’t like the idea of this for food crops so use it for industrial crops such as soybeans.
I don’t know if this idea is viable but I believe it may have legs. I think it could be patentable but on disability & with an uncertain lifespan I determined to make it available & this seemed the channel to do so. As I’ve said, I don’t believe in AGW but if they push the issue this may make low cost elec. from coal plants viable. Plus there are certain genuine pollutants that this may clean up.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

IanPJ said on January 11, 2011 at 11:56 am:

.. and what, ultimately, is all this captured carbon for?

It’s part of an ongoing series of experiments in Modern Alchemy, which is a subject routinely taught in today’s schools and institutes of higher learning.
Since lead is now an environmental hazard too dangerous to work with, they’ve had to resort to transmuting carbon dioxide into gold.