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Wall says no need to continue funding Saskatchewan CO2 storage assessment centre

REGINA – A Saskatchewan organization that developed what was hailed as the first guidelines in the world for safe carbon capture and storage is on the verge of shutting down.

Funding is running out for the Regina-based International Performance Assessment Centre for Geologic Storage of CO2, known as IPAC-CO2.

And Premier Brad Wall said Tuesday that it could be “wound up.”

“They’ve done some great work,” Wall said at the legislature. “We wanted to lead in terms of the standards of CO2 storage and because of the work that’s been done, we have those standards today.”

“There might be some wind-up dollars required. I think we’ll look at that in terms of the budget, but I don’t think there’s a need to continue because the work’s been completed,” he added.

IPAC-CO2 was created in 2008 when the province and Royal Dutch Shell each put up $5 million over a five-year period.

Carbon capture and storage involves gathering CO2 from power plants and refineries and injecting it deep into porous rock. The goal is to prevent the gas from entering the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.

Jurisdictions such as Saskatchewan that rely heavily on coal-fired power plants need carbon capture and storage to work. But the technology has been panned as unproven and critics say not enough is known about the consequences.

Last November, the centre released guidelines on the best way to store carbon dioxide underground so it doesn’t get back out.

IPAC also investigated claims from a Saskatchewan couple that CO2 from an oil company’s carbon capture operation was leaking on their family farm near Weyburn. The centre determined that the company was not the source of gas found on Cameron and Jane Kerr’s farm.

But the organization has been under scrutiny over concerns surrounding a contract for IT services that wasn’t tendered.

When it was starting up, the centre, under acting managing director Malcolm Wilson, got into a sole-sourced IT deal with Climate Ventures Inc.

A forensic investigation by Myers Norris Penny found there was a conflict of interest because two people, including Wilson, held seats on both the IPAC and Climate Ventures Inc. boards. A news release from the Opposition New Democrats said the company got $2.9 million over a year and a half for computer hardware, software and IT services that were worth considerably less.