By David Blackmon
Forbes, Jan. 30, 2022
ExxonMobil XOM 0.0%0.0% announced Monday a key step in the advancement of its plans to mount the largest low-carbon hydrogen production facility in the world, to be located at its mammoth Baytown Refinery near Houston, Texas. The company said it has approved a front-end engineering and design (FEED) award to French-headquartered Technip Energies, a leading engineering and technology firm that has long had a strong presence in Houston. The plan is for the plant to eventually produce one billion cubic feet (bcf) of low-carbon hydrogen daily, along with an undisclosed volume of ammonia, a key ingredient in fertilizers.
ExxonMobil adds that, in coordination with the major carbon capture and storage (CCS) project it is developing in the Houston and Gulf Coast area, more than 98% of the associated CO2 produced by the facility will be captured and permanently stored, amounting to about 7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. “The carbon capture and storage network being developed for the project will be made available for use by third-party CO2 emitters in the area in support of their decarbonization efforts,” the company added.
All told, ExxonMobil said last year that it expects to be able to capture about 50 million metric tons of CO2 by 2030, increasing that to as much as 100 million by 2040 from its various CCS projects around the world. In January, 2022, the company announced that 14 other companies with plants along the Houston Ship Channel would work cooperatively in the CCS effort. The plan, with an initial price tag of $100 billion, is to capture emissions from the tailgates of these facilities and store the CO2 in depleted oil reservoirs and other underground formations below the Gulf of Mexico or beneath the adjacent coastal areas.
“This project allows us to offer significant volumes of low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia to third party customers in support of their decarbonization efforts,” Dan Ammann, president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions, said in thecompany’s release. “In addition, the project is expected to enable up to a 30% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions from our Baytown integrated complex, by switching from natural gas as a fuel source to low-carbon hydrogen.”
The company says it expects to reach a final investment decision in the Baytown hydrogen facility sometime in 2024. This announcement comes on the heels of an announcement last week that the company has stopped routine flaring of natural gas from its operations in the Permian Basin, and would advocate for stronger regulations designed to reduce flaring in the industry overall.
It is all part of ExxonMobil’s plans to reduce its Scope-1 and Scope-2 greenhouse gas emissions from its operated facilities, with a goal of reaching net-zero in those categories by 2050. “It levels the playing field,” Exxon’s chief environmental scientist Matt Kolesar said in a Reuters interview. “We need strong regulations so it doesn’t matter who owns the facility.”
The company said its next step in that effort is to launch a satellite later this year that will enable it to track and further eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in its Permian operations. In its Monday release, ExxonMobil said its goals are “to achieve a 20-30% reduction in corporate wide greenhouse gas intensity; a 40-50% reduction in greenhouse gas intensity of upstream operations; a 70-80% reduction in corporate-wide methane intensity; and a 60-70% reduction in corporate-wide flaring intensity.”
The company adds that it expects initial startup of the new low-carbon hydrogen facility to take place in the 2027-28 time frame.
Originally posted on Forbes.