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Global consortium studying Houston low-carbon ammonia project

INPEX, Air Liquide, LSB Industries, and Vopak Moda Houston will study the project, with the first phase targeted to produce more than 1.1 million tonnes of low-carbon ammonia per annum by 2027.

Tokyo-based INPEX Corporation, Paris-based Air Liquide Group, Oklahoma City-based LSB Industries, Inc., and Houston-based Vopak Moda Houston LLC have agreed to collaborate on the pre-FEED for the development of a large-scale, low-carbon ammonia production and export project on the Houston Ship Channel, according to a news release.

If the development proceeds, the project’s first phase is targeted to produce more than 1.1 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of low-carbon ammonia by the end of 2027, with options for future expansions.

The parties completed a feasibility study on the project earlier this year and the preferred facility’s location on the Houston Ship Channel, the second largest petrochemical corridor in the world, leverages existing infrastructure assets. Vopak Moda has invested in storage and handling infrastructure for bulk liquid products and currently operates an ammonia terminal that includes storage tanks and a newbuild dock with multiple deep-water berths.  The project also has access to utilities and would be near multiple pipelines that could supply raw materials like natural gas and water.

The project partners will bring complementary expertise to the production, operation, storage and export for the advancement of low-carbon ammonia production in the US:

  • Air Liquide and INPEX would collaborate on low-carbon hydrogen production. Air Liquide would supply its AutoThermal Reforming (ATR) technology, an ideal solution for large-scale hydrogen production projects, combined with its proprietary carbon capture technology.   The combination of ATR technology with carbon capture aims to capture at least 95% of direct CO2 emissions from hydrogen production with at least 1.6 MTPA CO2 captured and permanently sequestered from this project.  Air Liquide would be responsible for onsite nitrogen and oxygen production, using its proprietary Air Separation Unit (ASU) technology.
  • LSB and INPEX would collaborate on low-carbon ammonia production. LSB would lead the selection of the ammonia loop technology provider, the pre-FEED, and the engineering, procurement and construction of the facility. LSB would also be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the ammonia loop.
  • INPEX and LSB would sell the low-carbon ammonia and finalize off-take agreements with the numerous parties that have expressed interest and could also further partner in the project. The majority of the product would be used for power generation in Asia with some volumes going to Europe and the US. INPEX, with stakes in both hydrogen and ammonia production, will likely be the largest investor in the overall project across the entire value chain, from production to export.
  • Vopak Moda currently operates ammonia storage and handling infrastructure from its Very Large Gas Carriers (VLGC)-capable deepwater berth which is located in the deepest part of the Houston Ship Channel.  Vopak Moda will maintain its ownership of the existing infrastructure and plans to build additional storage capacity as required to handle the low-carbon ammonia production of the proposed new facility.

INPEX Representative Director, President & CEO Takayuki Ueda said, “As we approach the achievement of our net zero target by 2050, the unveiling of our low carbon ammonia project in Texas, USA, stands as a momentous testament to INPEX’s strong commitment to environmental leadership. This innovative endeavor marks a significant milestone to create a clean fuel supply chain for a sustainable future. By harnessing the power of cutting-edge technologies and collaborative partnerships with Air Liquide, LSB and Vopak Moda, we are accelerating the transition to a low-carbon world, while solidifying our position as a pioneer in energy transformation and a responsible global energy player.”

“This project is well aligned with our strategy to become a leader in the global energy transition through the production of low-carbon ammonia,” stated Mark Behrman, LSB Industries President and CEO.  “As a long-standing, highly experienced nitrogen producer and developer of nitrogen production facilities, we are uniquely positioned to play a key role in a critical element of this project by overseeing the design, construction and operation of the ammonia loop. We are excited to be part of this consortium, comprised of best-in-class energy-related companies, and look forward to working with them as we make the vision of this world scale clean ammonia facility a reality.”

Maria Ciliberti, Vopak President US and Canada, and Moda Midstream Co-Founder and CEO Jonathan Ackerman released a joint statement about the project: “The worldwide movement to decarbonize industry and transportation will drive strong global demand for low-carbon ammonia.  Vopak Moda has invested in our talented, experienced workforce and state-of-the art storage and marine infrastructure to be a leader in the emerging low-carbon ammonia export market. We believe the unbeatable combination of project expertise, technology, off-taker relationships and market credibility position Vopak Moda, Air Liquide, INPEX and LSB to be first movers for a new wave of low-carbon energy exports.”

Adam Peters, CEO of Air Liquide North America, said: “Air Liquide is committed to working with its customers and industry partners to provide innovative and sustainable technology solutions to decarbonize traditional industrial processes, like ammonia production. We are proud to contribute our hydrogen production expertise and portfolio of sustainable technologies in order to produce low-carbon hydrogen to support decarbonization of industrial markets. Together with our customers, we can reduce carbon emissions in industrial basins and advance toward a more sustainable future.”

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