Oman’s Energy Transition Pathway: The Role of CCUS and Clean Hydrogen
Never before has energy transition and decarbonization been the focus of cross sector national discussion and deliberation in Oman. In October of this year, the National Carbon Lab organized by Oman Vision 2040 Implementation Follow-up Unit gathered experts from across multiple sectors to discuss one common item, the decarbonization agenda. The gathering aimed to draw a collective national net zero ambition for Oman. At the same time, the Ministry of Energy and Minerals continued its detailed work into shaping the energy transition policy framework. In both avenues and across multiple sectors, clean hydrogen and Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) emerged as common decarbonization levers that could help Oman navigate the energy transition towards the aspiration of Vision 2040.
Today, considerable emissions are attributed to fossil fuel energy consumption in industrial activities. While fossil fuel energy in the form of heat or electricity is used to drive many industrial processes, grey hydrogen is used as feedstock in the petrochemical and fertilizer industry in Oman to produce various chemicals including ammonia and methanol. In addition, it is also used as a desulfurization agent in refineries. However, this hydrogen (grey hydrogen) is produced from natural gas and not only does it result in some considerable emission of CO2, it also consumes a considerable amount of natural gas at a time when the growth of other sectors is delayed due to constraints on gas availability. The current plans to produce clean hydrogen in Oman, both blue and green, could be a lever for decarbonizing one of the hard-to-abate sectors in Oman (chemicals and fertilizers industry) and could at the same time free up gas to be directed towards sectors where hydrogen is not attractive or not practical at this early stage of the hydrogen economy.
CCUS and Clean Hydrogen provide two pathways to transit the current hydrogen-based chemical industries into low-carbon industries and eventually kick-start a new clean products industry. The former involves transitioning existing grey hydrogen production to low carbon hydrogen by capturing the emissions from its production site. Such emissions normally have high CO2 purity and concentration supporting a highly efficient capture process. A CCUS upscale could also open doors for decarbonizing the gas-based power sector that needs to remain part of the power mix to provide a clean stable baseload to ensure the resilience of the power system for future scenarios where renewable share of the power production is set to increase.