Norwegian oil and gas producer Equinor ASA is teaming up with manufacturer U.S. Steel Corp. to explore converting Appalachia’s natural gas to cleaner “blue hydrogen,” the firms said June 29.
Blue hydrogen uses steam methane reforming to make hydrogen and uses carbon capture and storage, or CCS, technologies to store the waste carbon, usually underground. Natural gas is typically the feedstock for steam methane reforming.
Combined, Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio produce more natural gas than Texas. Another source of local demand would be welcomed by Appalachia’s producers. When pipelines out of the region fill up, Appalachia’s shale gas producers often end up selling gas into the glutted local market at a large discount to national prices.
Equinor and U.S. Steel said the non-exclusive memorandum of understanding would open the door to studying the potential for producing and selling blue hydrogen in the region, as well as to combining their lobbying efforts with policy makers. Theoretically, just as natural gas replaced coal for many steelmaking processes, hydrogen could replace gas, reducing potent methane and carbon dioxide emissions.