Japan receives 1st shipment of low-carbon ammonia from Saudi Arabia

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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Low-carbon ammonia to Japan from Saudi
Image Courtesy; Aramco

Saudi National Oil Company, Aramco has announced that the first shipment of independently-certified low-carbon ammonia has arrived in Japan for use as fuel in power generation. 

The shipment is the result of successful multiparty collaboration across the low-carbon ammonia value chain. The ammonia was produced by SABIC Agri-Nutrients (SABIC AN) with feedstock from Aramco, and sold by Aramco Trading Company to the Fuji Oil Company (FOC). 

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) was tasked with shipping the liquid to Japan, then the low-carbon ammonia was transported to the Sodegaura Refinery for use in co-fired power generation, with technical support provided by Japan Oil Engineering Co (JOE). 

Ammonia is categorized as low-carbon because CO2 from the associated manufacturing process was captured and utilized in downstream applications. 

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has announced plans to increasingly harness ammonia as a fuel for power generation and ship propulsion, as part of the country’s 2050 decarbonization goals. The low-carbon ammonia that reached Japan is part of broader efforts by Aramco and SABIC AN to establish a global supply network for this lower-carbon fuel. Aramco and SABIC AN aim to supply low-carbon ammonia to other players to meet their early demand needs.  

Olivier Thorel_Low-Carbon ammonia to Japan from Saudi
Olivier Thorel
SVP – Chemicals

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, but it is also an important energy source in its own right that can help decarbonize 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.” 

Mr. Abdulrahman Shamsaddin, SABIC AN CEO, said that “Our aim is to capitalize on this important milestone to grow and expand our positive contribution toward carbon neutrality. SABIC Agri-Nutrients made a public commitment not only to become carbon neutral by 2050 but also to collaborate with customers to help them achieve their net-zero emission targets. Customers in the energy, fertilizer and chemical sectors are looking for suppliers of lower-carbon hydrogen and ammonia. And we can meet their demand by leveraging our long-standing strengths across the value chain.”

“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,” Mr. Shigeto Yamamoto, FOC Representative Director, President, said. 

Mr. Toshiaki Tanaka, MOL Representative Director, Executive Vice President Executive Officer, stated that “Ammonia is expected to be in great demand as a next-generation, clean energy source. Japan aims to achieve a carbon-neutral society by 2050, and we are very pleased to transport independently-certified low-carbon ammonia from Saudi Arabia to Japan. We are aiming for a track record of safe, reliable services across multiple transportation modes, in accordance with our customers’ needs. By combining accumulated knowledge and proactively participating in a broad range of value chains, we hope to contribute to the decarbonization of society.”  

In 2020, Aramco collaborated with SABIC to dispatch the world’s first shipment of low-carbon ammonia to Japan in a demonstration project. Then, in 2022, Aramco and SABIC AN received the world’s first independent accreditation for low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia products. By the end of that year, the two companies had delivered the world’s first accredited low-carbon ammonia shipment to South Korea. The latest shipment to Japan brings this lower-carbon energy solution one step closer to the mainstream.

Related: Saudi Aramco’s 4% stakes transferred to PIF-owned Sanabil Investments