Aramco’s hydrogen revolution for clean energy production

This year, Saudi Aramco’s Mohammed Al-Mulhim showcased the possibility of a blue ammonia supply chain as hydrogen becomes its crucial sustainability focus

Saudi Aramco is a colossal force in the world of energy. As the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, it has a major sway on global energy trends and international affairs. Based in Dhahran, this petroleum titan and natural gas leader has left an indelible mark on the industry with years of operation within the sector. 

The company’s story began in 1933 when the country’s government granted a concession to the Standard Oil Company of California, which is now known as Chevron. This marked the initial step toward the creation of a mammoth energy sector and, 1980, Saudi Arabia’s choice to wholly own Aramco led to the transformation of the state-owned enterprise. 

Today, the company has over 90 years of experience in extraction, exploration, and discovery, but is also conscious of the need for further innovations, such as in hydrogen or other zero-emission technologies to decarbonise the global energy landscape. 

It’s safe to say that Aramco took on a major challenge when coming to terms with the need for sustainable change. 

Actions taken towards a more sustainability energy industry

The oil giant takes a huge task on its shoulders to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from around 50 million metric tonnes carbon-dioxide equivalent (CO2e) over the coming years, and that’s just in Scope 1. As such, the company is taking on the challenge to reduce its environmental impacts as much as possible, while recognising that its core business is unsustainable for the future. 

In an area where more innovation is required, Aramco is focusing on what it can deliver to the future in a decarbonised way, which is where hydrogen production comes in. The organisation is out to address queries as to whether society can be supported on a hydrogen model as opposed to that of fossil fuels. 

To facilitate a true impact, the company must pay attention to the forms of energy used to produce hydrogen, of which around half is currently provided with natural gas as a source of fuel for the electricity required. 

In 2019, Aramco and Air Products developed the first hydrogen fueling station in Saudi Arabia, which leverages Air Products’ innovations from its Technology Center in Techno Valley Science Park. Combining this with a hydrogen-fueled vehicle meant the company could launch a pilot programme to fuel a fleet of six Toyota Mirai vehicles with high-purity compressed hydrogen

In 2020, the company successfully showcased production and shipment of blue ammonia, which was achieved in partnership with SABIC and supported by the Institute of Energy Economics. 

Fast-forward to 2023 and Aramco delivered its first accredited shipment of low-carbon ammonia to Japan, showing promise for this innovation and international supply chain capabilities. 

At the time, Aramco Trading Company’s CEO Mohammed Al-Mulhim, said: “The landmark achievement is an example of excellent collaboration across businesses within Aramco, SABIC, Aramco Trading, and our Japanese partners, and indeed a major boost for our sustainability efforts.” 

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