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World's First Commercial Shipment of Blue Hydrogen Delivered to Korea

SABIC Manufacturing Site (Hadeed), Jubail, Saudi Arabia
Image courtesy of SABIC

Published Dec 18, 2022 11:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

The world's first commercial shipment of clean ammonia has been unloaded at the port of Ulsan in South Korea after a 20-day, 7,500 nm journey from Saudi Arabia. It is not the first international shipment of blue ammonia — a demonstration shipment of 40 tonnes from Saudi Arabia to Japan in September 2020 took that title — but it is the first commercial one.

The 25,000 tonnes of ammonia were produced by Saudi Aramco subsidiary Sabic from hydrogen derived from fossil gas, with the majority of the CO2 derived from the steam methane reforming (SMR) process captured and utilized at Aramco's oil refinery in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. A second 25,000-tonne shipment is due to be delivered by the end of this year as part of the same contract by Sabic, which is 70 percent owned by Aramco.

Last month, South Korea announced a new national hydrogen (H2) roadmap that aims to make hydrogen its largest single energy source by midcentury, with much of its H2 imported from overseas. Indeed, one of the explicit aims of the new document is to establish H2 supply channels from the Middle East.

Blue ammonia is made from nitrogen and blue hydrogen derived from natural gas feedstocks, with the carbon dioxide by-product from hydrogen production captured and stored or utilized. Ammonia can be used as a low-carbon fuel across a wide range of industrial applications, including transportation, power generation, and industries including steel, cement, and fertilizer production.

"This shipment is another milestone in our journey toward carbon neutrality," Abdulrahman Shamsaddin, SABIC's CEO, said in a statement. "We are proud to be a part of this pioneering solution, paving the way for further decarbonization efforts. Looking to the future, we are constantly working on breakthrough solutions to decarbonize our assets and deliver low-carbon solutions to our customers."