UAE's flagship blue ammonia megaproject to start construction next quarter



A one-million-tonne-a-year blue ammonia facility in the UAE is set to start construction in the third quarter of this year, with a contract for building the project awarded to Tecnimont this week.


The Ta’ziz low-carbon NH3 project, led by national oil company Adnoc, will be located at the Ruwais industrial hub in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and is scheduled to start operations in 2027.


However, Adnoc admits that the first stage of the plant will only produce ammonia with a 50% lower carbon intensity compared to conventional production.


While the oil company notes that a second stage will further reduce emissions by expanding its carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) capacity, it has not disclosed a timeline nor expected carbon intensity for this future phase.


Adnoc plans to export the blue ammonia to Japan and South Korea, which are both pursuing the use of the chemical in power generation, with conglomerates Mitsui and GS Energy Corporation already shareholders in the Ta’ziz project alongside fertiliser firm Fertiglobe.


However, South Korea has proposed a clean hydrogen standard of 4kg CO2-equivalent per kilogram of H2 produced, while Japan has set a threshold of 0.84kg CO2e for each kilogram of ammonia to be considered “low-carbon”.


Given steam methane reforming already produces hydrogen with a carbon intensity of around 11kgCO2e/kgH2, with additional emissions from the energy-intensive Haber Bosch process, a 50% reduction in carbon intensity would be unlikely to meet either standard — raising questions as to whether there will be a market for these initial volumes of blue ammonia from Ta’ziz.


The project has already been delayed, with its original announcement scheduling a final investment decision in 2022 and start-up in 2025.


However, Adnoc has pressed ahead with test shipments of blue ammonia. Earlier this month, the company exported “thousands of tonnes” of NH3, produced at Fertiglobe’s Fertil plant in Ruwais with CO2 emissions captured and permanently stored, to Mitsui in Japan for use in power generation.


This shipment was certified by German certification body TÜV SÜD as having a 70% lower carbon intensity compared to a benchmark of 94g of CO2e per megajoule at lower heating value, a measure of the energy content of H2 or its derivatives.


Source: Hydrogeninsight

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