Sumitomo Corp weighs first-ever hydrogen project in Oman

MoU with ARA Petroleum to study feasibility of producing hydrogen from associated flare gas to power electric vehicles

Image used for illustrative purpose. engineering man with white safety helmet standing in front of oil refinery building structure in heavy petrochemical industry

Image used for illustrative purpose. engineering man with white safety helmet standing in front of oil refinery building structure in heavy petrochemical industry

Getty Images/ Witthaya Prasongsin

Adding further momentum to the Sultanate’s ambitions to evolve into a global hub for hydrogen production as a zero-carbon energy source, Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo Corporation is weighing plans to develop a first-of-its-kind hydrogen plant in Oman in partnership with a local upstream energy firm.

Tokyo-headquartered Sumitomo Corporation announced on Friday that it has kicked off a study jointly with ARA Petroleum LLC, an Omani oil and gas producer, into the feasibility of establishing a hydrogen hybrid project with the hydrogen output earmarked primarily for the operation of electric vehicles in the Sultanate. This follows a Memorandum of Undersigned signed by the two sides in March last year.

The landmark project centres on a proposal to establish a hydrogen supply chain based on the local production and consumption of hydrogen, among other byproducts, at one of ARA Petroleum’s existing hydrocarbon production sites in the Sultanate.

ARA Petroleum, wholly owned by The Zubair Corporation, currently operates the adjoining Blocks 44 and 31 in the northwest of the country. Block 44, with its producing Shams field, has long been a source of hydrocarbons, chiefly natural gas.

At the heart of the proposed project is a ‘blue hydrogen’ component featuring a hydrogen production facility generating annually around 300-400 tonnes of hydrogen from associated flare gas generated at the site.

This energy stream will be chiefly utilised as a fuel for electric vehicles that ARA Petroleum plans to introduce as part of its operations.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) generated as a byproduct of the process is proposed to be utilised in local industries, according to Sumitomo. Significantly, electricity for the operation of the plant will come from a 20 megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) based project that will be installed nearby.

Over the past two years, the Sultanate has embarked on an ambitious strategy to invest in large-scale hydrogen production capabilities by harnessing solar and other renewable energy sources to mass produce hydrogen, billed as an ‘eco-friendly fuel of the future’. ‘Green Hydrogen’ projects are planned in Suhar and Duqm, with an eye on export markets, thereby helping supplant hydrocarbons as the country’s main revenue source.

The Sumitomo — ARA Petroleum initiative seeks to employ steam-reforming technology to produce hydrogen from natural gas. Hydrogen produced from this process is typically known as ‘Blue Hydrogen’.

In a statement, Sumitomo Corporation — a Fortune 500 global trading and business investment powerhouse — said the proposed Oman venture illustrates its commitment to transitioning towards low and zero-carbon based energy future.

“While contributing to decarbonisation and cleanliness of oil and gas production activities through the project, Sumitomo Corporation is considering expanding the model of the project both in Oman and overseas in the future,” the trading giant said.

“Sumitomo Corporation expects hydrogen to be one of the important energies in the future, and promotes hydrogen related business such as local production and consumption projects and large-scale value chain projects, that utilises the regional requirements of energy and the characteristics of hydrogen.

“In order to greatly contribute to the achievement of our long-term goals towards climate change mitigation, ‘Carbon neutralisation in 2050’ and ‘Realisation of a sustainable energy cycle’, we will accelerate our efforts for the materialisation of a hydrogen society by promoting hydrogen related businesses,” the conglomerate added.

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