Saudi Dispatches World’s First Commercial Shipment of Blue Ammonia

In a step that represents a new milestone in the development of decarbonization solutions, Saudi Arabia has dispatched a consignment of blue ammonia to South Korea, the world’s first commercial shipment of its kind.

Carrying 25 kilometer-tons of low-carbon blue ammonia, Vessel Seasurfer is expected to reach its destination between Dec. 9 and 13 in line with the agreement between Saudi Basic Industries Corporation Agri-Nutrients and Saudi Aramco, which was first announced during the recent Saudi Green Initiative conference in Egypt.

The low-carbon “cradle to gate” blue ammonia, which is an alternative to conventional gray ammonia, will be received by Lotte Fine Chemical, which has a long-standing relationship with SABIC AN.

SABIC AN CEO Abdulrahman Shamsaddin has described the shipment as a pioneering solution and another milestone in their journey toward carbon neutrality, which paves the way for further decarbonization efforts.

Yong Suk Kim, the CEO of the Korea-based LFC, on the other hand, hopes that this shipment will help lay the foundations for a global supply chain for blue ammonia.

Earlier this year, TUV Rheinland, a leading independent testing, inspection, and certification agency, based in Germany, granted SABIC Agri-Nutrients and Saudi Aramco the world’s first independent certifications, recognizing blue ammonia and blue hydrogen production.

South Korea will be the first to capitalize on this major certification achievement with the first shipment of blue ammonia.

Both the certification and the shipment are aligned with Saudi Vision 2030, which focuses on low-carbon fuels, products, solutions, and clean energy aiming to reduce the Kingdom’s dependence on oil and boost the economy of the country by promoting non-oil sectors.

As the world shifts to low-carbon energy sources, the oil-rich kingdom is trying to take the lead in supplying hydrogen-based products.

The state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco has focused on exporting ammonia – a compound of hydrogen and nitrogen that can be burned in power stations without emitting carbon dioxide – rather than n hydrogen itself.

To produce ammonia, the company separates hydrogen from natural gas, capturing the carbon dioxide emitted in the process, which is treated using CCUS (carbon capture, utilization, and storage) and can be later stored underground or injected into oil fields to boost production.

Back in 2020, Saudi Aramco made a significant step towards sustainable hydrogen usage and a circular carbon economy, dispatching the first batch of 40 tons of high-grade “carbon-emissions-free” blue ammonia to Japan in a partnership with SABIC and the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ).

The 30 tons of CO2 captured during the process were used at SABIC’s Ibn-Sina facility in methanol production and another 20 tons were used at Aramco’s Uthmaniyah field for enhanced oil recovery.

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