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European oil and gas giants jump into hydrogen

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After 20 years as an engineer in the oil and gas industry, gasthe Venezuelan-Dutch Tatiana Block became a consultant in green hydrogen in the Netherlandsdetermined to continue “supplying energy to society” but also to combat climate change.

The extraction of natural gas and the industrial manufacture of green hydrogen are very different processes, but their transportation and distribution have many points in common: “in both cases they are gases and pipes and I can use my knowledge”declared the consultant at a major fair in the sector, the World Hydrogen Summitwhich took place in Rotterdam (South of the Netherlands) this week.

To make his personal transition, Block had to go back to college and get a master’s degree in sustainable energy in 2020.

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His individual trajectory illustrates that of the European hydrocarbon giants. Following a global trend, and together with gas behemoths like the German linethe French Air Liquide or the American Air Products, companies specialized in renewable energies and a multitude of new companies; the main players in the industry in Europe are launching into the hydrogen sector.

shell Y BP were also the main sponsors of the fair in Rotterdam, together with the Saudi group aramco.

“Their presence at these fairs shows the fact that they are committed to the transition, despite the fact that, in the field of hydrogen, nothing is profitable at the moment”, said an equipment supplier who requested anonymity.

Something that is confirmed in the position of Shell, which is now on its third attempt to develop activities in the field of hydrogen in 25 years.

Hydrogen is “the swiss army knife of transition” due to the variety of its uses, explained Lisa Montanarifrom Shell-Netherlands.

The Dutch group is also active in the construction of machines designed to produce hydrogen, electrolysers. These separate the hydrogen (H) from the water molecule (H2O). It takes a lot of electricity to run them and when the electricity comes from renewable energy sources, hydrogen is called “green”.

Shell is also developing the decarbonization of heavy industry and mobility by truck, ship or plane thanks to hydrogen. It is also working on the import-export of Hydrogen.

“We anticipate that there will be a shortage of hydrogen in northwestern Europe” so ports will have to be found to import it, he says.

War, an “important accelerator”

Climate commitments by oil companies still lack credibility and often rely on technologies that have not been proven effective on a large scale, criticized a recent report from CarbonTracker.

“They are truly the ones who have the most to do”They are “those who most need to make a transition”said Tom Houghton, director of London-based consultancy E4tech.

The gas crisis in Europe and then the russian war They are a “important accelerator” to get out of certain gas dependencies, pointed out most of the analysts interviewed at the Rotterdam fair.

Oil companies consume a lot of hydrogen in their own processes, including at the refinery, Houghton noted.

An argument that should lead Shell to invest in the construction of a 200 MW electrolyser in the port of Rotterdam, which, in the long term, could supply hydrogen to up to 2,300 trucks every day, when they exist. The electrolyser will run on electricity from a North Sea wind farm that was inaugurated in 2020.

All in all, the oil and gas sector is still the fourth sector to be really interested in green hydrogen, he added. Tarek Helmi, from Deloitte.

It is behind ammonia manufacturers, the methanol sector and the steel industry, for the production of steel using hydrogen instead of coal.

Source: Gestion

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