UK-listed contractor Petrofac has been awarded a three-year consultancy framework agreement to consider wind power opportunities on far-eastern Russia's Sakhalin Island, which authorities in Moscow want to use as a testing ground for projects that can help the country reach a net zero target decades ahead of a current target of 2060.

The design services agreement, signed with H4 Energy, includes an initial screening study to explore opportunities for using predominantly wind energy to produce green hydrogen at a proposed site on the southwestern tip of the island, Petrofac said.

The work will evaluate hydrogen production technology and carriers for products such as liquid hydrogen and ammonia, turbine sizing, electrical systems and related hazards.

The proposed facility would kick of with power generating capacity of 100 megawatts and target the production of 17,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year.

However, Petrofac will also look at options for scaling up to 3 gigawatts of total installed capacity in future possible expansion phases for the facility, it added.

Petrofac established as foothold on Sakhalin in 2006 with the expansion of the Gazprom-led Sakhalin 2 oil and gas project that is producing and exporting liquefied natural gas and crude oil from two offshore fields in the northeast of the island.

The company said that its plans would constitute a first green hydrogen development on Sakhalin and expressed readiness to move into a next stage from initial declarations of intentions.

Sakhalin offers excellent land availability, coastal proximity, and a location adjacent to Eastern Asian markets, with an only 40 kilometre sea crossing to Japan, Petrofac added.

According to UK-listed Eurasia Mining, this company has recently formed its own a joint venture with H4 Energy to promote hydrogen and ammonia projects on the Kola Peninsula and Sakhalin Island in Russia. Another partner in this venture is locally based company Sakhalin Oil & Gas.

Eurasia Mining has described H4 Energy as an engineering and development company that specialises on hydrogen and ammonia projects, aiming to reach production of 1 million tonnes of hydrogen per year by 2030.

H4 Energy is managed by H2 Transition Capital, founded by ex-Shell energy transformation team member Richard Oblath, an ex-Shell research and development manager and former Petrofac chief technology officer, Geoff Nesbitt, and a former vice president of Russian oil producer Rosneft, Artyom Matyushok.

The island of Sakhalin has been targeted for numerous blue hydrogen proposals because of the availability of natural gas and fields that can be used to store captured carbon dioxide.

Russian state nuclear conglomerate Rosatom revealed a plan last year to start trial hydrogen production at its Sakhalin facility already in 2024, with the goal to produce between 30,000 tonnes and 100,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year.

The Russian company is seeking technical assistance from France’s Air Liquide in designing this facility, it added.

Russian state-controlled oil producer Gazprom Neft is understood to have joined the J4 project with a proposed role for transporting and storing carbon dioxide to be captured during the hydrogen production.

Rosatom has also said that it is ready to consider investments into wind power generation to underpin a green hydrogen project on the island.

It is said to be currently running a tender to select a contractor to run a one-year programme to assess wind speed and direction on a proposed site for the 200 MW wind turbine farm.

According to the Russian industry and trade ministry, at least one more green hydrogen project is considered at the island. This is being pushed forward by Russian investor H2 Clean Energy and aims to start operations in 2025 with the ultimate annual production goal of 50,000 tonnes of hydrogen.

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