Norwegian oil giant Equinor and US Steel have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore the potential for hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the US states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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The pair plan to use natural gas in the eastern US region to produce hydrogen and to capture the carbon emitted from the process to keep the product clean.

“A hydrogen and CO2 hub in the Appalachian basin… would be an important tool to meet the future energy demands of domestic industry within the US ambition to achieve net-zero by 2050,” Equinor US country manager Chris Golden said this week.

The tie-up with US Steel comes soon after Equinor pulled out of two Mexican deep-water blocks as it focuses on decarbonisation efforts.

The scope of work under the MoU includes feasibility studies, screening of suppliers and policy advocacy to support blue hydrogen and CCS.

Green vs Blue

The move sees Equinor continue its focus on hydrogen after recently announcing plans to triple its blue hydrogen output in the UK.

The US government has recently pushed incentives for green hydrogen production, which uses renewable energy to power electrolysis — splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen — resulting in a process without emissions.

However, blue hydrogen, which utilises CCS technology to capture emissions from traditional hydrogen production, has the advantage of scale in the country.

“The successful development of hydrogen and CCS technology in the tri-state region will require investment, cooperation, and exploration across political and perceived barriers,” said Richard Fruehauf, senior vice president, chief strategy and sustainability officer at US Steel.

“As we build momentum toward our ambitious goal targeting net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the opportunity to explore the potential for a hydrogen hub in this region – anchored in the Mon Valley – is cause for optimism.”

Equinor also said it is actively working with the government to increase research into hydrogen technologies.