Royal Dutch Shell PLC subsidiary AS Norske Shell has entered a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Aker Clean Hydrogen—a holding of Aker ASA’s majority owned Aker Horizons ASA—and CapeOmega AS to develop, build, and operate a large-scale clean hydrogen hub in Aukra municipality, Møre og Romsdal County, on Norway’s northwestern coast.
Aimed at complementing an ambition of Norway’s hydrogen roadmap specifically targeting support for maritime hydrogen hubs, the proposed Akura hydrogen hub would produce clean—or blue—hydrogen that could be used for decarbonizing regional industrial processes and providing emission-free fuel for marine and road transportation, as well as for export to hydrogen consumers elsewhere in Europe, Aker Clean Hydrogen and CapeOmega said on July 12.
As part of the agreement, Norske Shell would supply the planned Akura hydrogen hub natural gas produced from the Norske Shell-operated Ormen Lange deepwater field off Norway that is processed at the Gassco AS-operated Nyhamna natural gas processing plant and export hub in Aukra, at which Norske Shell serves as technical service provider, according to the partners.
"Shell's target is to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 [and] joining forces with Aker Clean Hydrogen and CapeOmega to work on the exciting opportunities within the Aukra hydrogen hub is a natural step on our path towards reaching our target," said Marianne J. Olsnes, Norske Shell’s managing director.
Aker Clean Hydrogen said this latest MOU for the proposed project follows its entrance into a cooperation agreement with Aukra municipality earlier this year granting the company exclusive rights to explore and develop a project for production of hydrogen, ammonia, and related products in Aukra, as well as a subsequent MOU signed in June with CapeOmega to explore jointly developing the proposed hydrogen hub.
Upon announcing the project in May, Aker Clean Hydrogen said the hub’s hydrogen plant would be designed to split the natural gas it receives from the Nyhamna plant into hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2), the latter of which would be permanently stored, according to a May 4 release from Aker Clean Hydrogen.
While Aker Clean Hydrogen confirmed at the time that sister company Aker Carbon Capture would collaborate with SINTEF—Norway’s independent research institute—to explore new capture technology for hydrogen production units that complemented the company’s existing capture technology for blue hydrogen from steam methane reforming, Norske Shell—an owner in the Northern Lights joint venture, a full-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) project that comprises transportation, receipt, and permanent storage of CO2 in a reservoir in the northern North Sea and will initially include capture of CO2 from Norwegian industrial capture sources—presumably also will participate in the CCS efforts (OGJ Online, Jan. 28, 2021).
A feasibility study for the blue hydrogen—or hydrogen produced from fossil sources but whose carbon emissions are captured and stored via CCS technologies—hub was under way as of May, Aker Clean Hydrogen said.
A definitive timeline for the project has yet to be confirmed.
Nyhamna gas processing hub
Commissioned in 2007, the Nyhamna plant was initially built as a hub for processing and exporting gas and condensate it received via two 30-in. pipelines from the Norske Shell-operated Ormen Lange deepwater field in 800-1,100 m of water on the Norwegian continental shelf, about 120 km northwest of Kristiansund, Norway. With an original nameplate processing capacity of 70 million cu m/day, the plant was upgraded in 2013-17 to begin receiving additional gas from Equinor ASA-operated Aasta Hansteen and surrounding fields in the Norwegian Sea’s Vøring basin delivered to the Nyhamna terminal by the 482-km Polarled pipeline (OGJ, July 1, 2019, p. 56).
At its expanded capacity of 84 million cu m/day, the Nyhamna onshore plant features a series of complex processing installations for liquids separation, dehydration, purification, and compression of gas that, post-treatment, is exported along the 1,300-m Langeled pipeline to the UK and continental Europe.
Alongside associated installations for recycling antifreeze (used to prevent ice formation in pipes), water treatment, flaring, and liquids storage, the Nyhamna site also houses a marine terminal to accommodate export of condensate production to refineries around the world via tanker.