• Saudi Aramco sends low-carbon ammonia to Japan

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    • Post Author

      Greg Kelsall

Saudi Arabian company Aramco confirmed recently  that it had delivered its first accredited low-carbon ammonia shipment to Japan. The ammonia was produced by SABIC Agri-Nutrients using feedstock supplied by Aramco and was sold by Aramco Trading Company to Fuji Oil Company. Mitsui OSK Lines was responsible for the shipment, which was delivered to the Sodegaura refinery to be used in co-fired power generation. The ammonia is labelled as low carbon due to the capture of CO2 from the production process which is then utilised in downstream applications according to Aramco.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has previously announced plans to increasingly harness ammonia as a fuel for power generation and for ship propulsion, as part of the country’s 2050 decarbonisation goals. As such, Japan is seeking to have a hydrogen economy of 3 million tonnes/year by 2030 and 20 million tonnes/year by 2050, according to the country’s hydrogen strategy. The country will aim to produce domestic hydrogen from renewable sources, but will also be reliant on imports from other countries.

Saudi Arabia has ambitions of becoming a significant exporter of hydrogen and hydrogen carriers such as ammonia, and is targeting production of 2.9 million tonnes/year by 2030 and 4 million tonnes/year by 2035.

Exports of low carbon and renewable ammonia are likely to rise in volume in the coming years, as countries begin to import hydrogen and hydrogen carriers from other global regions to meet decarbonisation targets. The European Union for example has a target of importing 10 million tonnes/year of hydrogen by 2030, mainly into northwest Europe (Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany).

 Olivier Thorel, Aramco Senior Vice President of Chemicals, said: “This is another milestone that highlights the possibilities for low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia made from Aramco feedstock, with the potential to play a role in a lower-carbon future. Not only is low-carbon ammonia a means to transport lower-carbon hydrogen, it is an important energy source in its own right that can help decarbonise key sectors – including power generation for both utilities and industries. By dispatching this accredited low-carbon ammonia to Japan, we are helping chart a course for the development of this vital commodity.”

Shigeto Yamamoto of the Fuji Oil Company noted that as Japan aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, low-carbon ammonia is expected to be a next-generation fuel that can contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions.  “In order to reduce CO2 emissions from our own operations, we have been working on co-firing ammonia, which is a by-product of the petroleum refining process, in the boiler at our Sodegaura Refinery, and we plan to burn low-carbon ammonia imported this time with the cooperation of our partners in the same boiler. We will continue these efforts to contribute to the construction of the ammonia supply chain.”