US supermajor ExxonMobil has awarded Technip Energies the front-end engineering and design contract for its Baytown blue hydrogen facility, which aims to be a potential launching point for a greater Houston carbon capture and storage innovation zone.

The Baytown hydrogen project plans to produce 1 billion cubic feet per day of low-carbon hydrogen, capturing more than 98% of associated carbon dioxide emissions, around 7 million tonnes per annum, the company said.

ExxonMobil initially announced the project would have capacity to transport and store up to 10 million tpa of CO2, but now emphasises that the CCS network being developed will be made available for use by third-party emitters in the area.

The project will be connected to ExxonMobil’s existing Baytown refinery outside Houston.

“This project allows us to offer significant volumes of low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia to third party customers in support of their decarbonisation efforts,” said ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions president Dan Ammann.

“In addition, the project is expected to enable up to a 30% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions from our Baytown integrated complex, by switching from natural gas as a fuel source to low-carbon hydrogen.”

The final investment decision is expected by 2024, with start-up planned in 2027 or 2028.

In 2021, ExxonMobil proposed a $100 billion public-private investment to develop a collaborative CCS hub in the Houston industrial area around the Houston Ship Channel.

The proposed hub would aim to capture and permanently store 50 million tpa of CO2 by 2030, and 100 million tpa by 2040.

The company views the Baytown hydrogen and CCS project as a potential launching point for this hub, creating infrastructure that can later be shared by other companies in the area looking to decarbonise their operations.

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