A Saskatchewan science project 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 University of Regina-based International Performance Assessment Centre for Geologic Storage of CO2, known as IPAC-CO2.


'I don't think there's a need to continue because the work's been completed.' —Premier Brad Wall

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."

Work is complete

"There might be some wind-up dollars required," he added. "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."

IPAC-CO2 was created in 2008 when the province and Royal Dutch Shell each put up $5 million over a five-year period. The federal government also contributed $4 million.

Carbon capture and storage involves gathering CO2 (or carbon dioxide) 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 management by employees of the University of Regina, got into a sole-sourced IT deal with Climate Ventures Inc.

Following a forensic investigation by Myers Norris Penny, the president of the university — Vianne Timmons — said some employees had not reported a conflict of interest.