World first: Saudi Arabia sends blue ammonia shipment to Japan

World first: Saudi Arabia sends blue ammonia shipment to Japan

In a significant step towards sustainable hydrogen usage and a circular carbon economy, Saudi Arabia has sent the world’s first shipment of blue ammonia to Japan, where it will be used in zero-carbon power generation.

Announcing the news on Sunday, Saudi Aramco said 40 tonnes of high-grade blue ammonia, a compound consisting of three parts hydrogen and one part nitrogen, have been dispatched, marking a successful demonstration of the supply network from Saudi Arabia to Japan.

The Saudi-Japan blue ammonia supply network demonstration spanned the full value chain including the conversion of hydrocarbons to hydrogen and then to ammonia, as well as the capture of associated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

It overcame challenges associated with the shipping of blue ammonia to Japan for use in power plants, with 30 tonnes of CO2 captured during the process designated for use in methanol production at SABIC’s Ibn-Sina facility and another 20 tonnes of captured CO2 being used for Enhanced Oil Recovery at Aramco’s Uthmaniyah field.

Saudi Aramco worked in partnership with the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) and SABIC on the project.

Ahmad O. Al-Khowaiter, Aramco’s Chief Technology Officer, said, “The use of hydrogen is expected to grow in the global energy system, and this world’s first demonstration represents an exciting opportunity for Aramco to showcase the potential of hydrocarbons as a reliable and affordable source of low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia.”

“This milestone also highlights a successful transnational, multi-industry partnership between Saudi Arabia and Japan.”

“Multinational partnerships are key in realising the Circular Carbon Economy, championed by the Saudi Arabian G20 Presidency.”

“Aramco continues to work with various partners around the world, finding solutions through the deployment of breakthrough technologies to produce low-carbon energy and address the global climate challenge.”

Toyoda Masakazu, Chairman and CEO of IEEJ, added, “Blue ammonia is critical to Japan’s zero carbon emission ambitions to sustain the balance between the environment and the economy. About 10% of power in Japan can be generated by 30 million tonnes of blue ammonia.”

“We can start with co-firing blue ammonia in existing power stations, eventually transitioning to single firing with 100% blue ammonia.”

“There are nations such as Japan which cannot necessarily utilise carbon capture and storage (CCS) or EOR due to their geological conditions. The carbon neutral blue ammonia/hydrogen will help overcome this regional disadvantage.”


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