By: Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus
Namibia’s planned mega green hydrogen project can be used to reduce sulphur levels in crude oil refineries, apart from being an energy carrier and a critical input in synthetic fuel production through ammonia.
National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia’s (Namcor)Head of Sustainable Energies, Frans Kalenga, highlighted this in his presentation at the Race To First Oil Seminar 2023, which was hosted by his company this month.
Kalenga indicated that the hydrogen produced can be used to desulphurised transportation fuels and reduce the overall carbon footprint of refineries.
As there is no refinery in Namibia, he saida discussion could be opened up with Angola for shipping hydrogen to the Soyo refineryproposed to be built at Zaire by Quanten Consortium Angola, LLC with the capacity to process 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
The lack of refinery infrastructure means Angola spends vast sums importing fuel every year to meet its own energy needs — in 2022, the country spent $4 billion (€3.6 billion) on petroleum imports compared to $1.9 billion in 2021.
Oil refineries often use hydrogen in hydrogenation processes to upgrade heavy crude oils and produce cleaner fuels.
Kalenga’sremarks came when TotalEnergies announced a call for tenders for the annual production of 500,000 tonnes of “green” hydrogen, as part of the French oil major’s plans to decarbonise its European refineries.
The oil giant which owns shares in what is touted by some as possibly the world’s biggest-ever deep-water oil find offshore Namibiasaid its emissions reduction plan is to use green hydrogen, which is produced using renewable energy, to completely replace “grey” hydrogen in its carbon-intensive industrial activities.
TotalEnergies was quoted by Reuters that their transition to green hydrogen would reduce emissions by around five million metric tonnes of CO2 per year from its European refineries, including its three oil refineries and two biorefineries in France.
Angola’s refined fuel does not meet Namibian standards as it contains a high level of sulphur, which is a pollutant. However, according to current law, only licensed wholesalers are allowed to import fuel into Namibia and only licensed retailers are allowed to resell fuel. The fuel smuggled from other countries does not also meet the specifications prescribed for all the vehicles currently operating on Namibian roads.
Despite the ban, the Angolan government has offered Namibia equity in its planned Lobito Oil Refinery, which will be the largest in Angola, with 200,000 barrels per day expected to be refined at that coastal town, however, the Namibian government is yet to decide on the offer.
Despite Angola’s various plans to build refineries, and Nigeria’s Dangote Oil Refinery, which is a 650,000 barrels per day integrated refinery project under construction in the Lekki Free Zone near Lagos, Nigeria,.Namibia has not announced any efforts or offtake agreements yet with any African country for green hydrogen or ammonia.
This is because oil refineries often use hydrogen in hydrogenation processes to upgrade heavy crude oils and produce cleaner fuels.
Kalenga explained that integrating hydrogen production through electrolysis powered by renewable energy sources can significantly reduce the carbon footprint associated with hydrogenation processes, adding that hydrogen can be used in enhanced oil recovery processes to improve the efficiency of oil production.
In some cases, hydrogen-rich gases produced during industrial processes or generated from renewable sources can be injected into oil reservoirs to facilitate the extraction of additional oil.
“This approach not only increases oil recovery but also sequesters carbon dioxide, making it an environmentally beneficial method,” he stated.
As for Namibia, there are no refinery conversions that have reached the public yet, after the government had spent around N$5 billion on oil storage which is currently underutilised.
Furthermore, the country’s oil prospecting efforts have so far identified five wells that have shown good prospects of oil reserves.
Two of the wells (Jonker and Venus) are estimated to have commercial reserves with expectations for them to be pumping crude in 2029 and 2030. Email: email@example.com