Japan’s Sumitomo to explore unique hydrogen project in Oman

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Japanese leading general trading company Sumitomo Corporation is planning to build a first-of-its-kind hydrogen plant in Oman in collaboration with a local upstream energy company.

Tokyo-headquartered Sumitomo Corporation has launched a joint study with the Omani oil and gas producer ARA Petroleum LLC which is being conducted to know about the feasibility of establishing a hydrogen hybrid project with the hydrogen output intended primarily for the operation of electric vehicles in the Sultanate. This follows a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the two organizations in March last year.

The Sumitomo-ARA Petroleum initiative aims to use steam-reforming technology to generate natural gas hydrogen. Hydrogen produced from this process is typically known as ‘Blue Hydrogen’.

The landmark project focuses on a proposal to create a hydrogen supply chain based on the local production and consumption of hydrogen, among other byproducts, at one of ARA Petroleum’s existing hydrocarbon production sites in the Sultanate.

ARA Petroleum, wholly owned by The Zubair Company, currently operates the adjoining Blocks 44 and 31 in the northwest of the Sultanate. Block 44, with its producing Shams field, has long been a source of hydrocarbons, chiefly natural gas.

At the heart of the proposed project is a ‘blue hydrogen’ component featuring a hydrogen production facility generating annually around 300-400 tons of hydrogen from associated flare gas generated at the site. This energy stream will be mainly used as an electric vehicle fuel that ARA Petroleum plans to launch as part of its operations.

According to Sumitomo, the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced as a by-product of this process is recommended for use in local industries. Significantly, electricity for the operation of the plant will come from a 20 megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) based project that will be constructed nearby.

“While contributing to decarbonization and cleanliness of oil and gas production activities through the project, Sumitomo Corporation is considering expanding the model of the project both in Oman and overseas in the future,” added the trading company.