Japan’s Inpex, Jera and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (Jogmec) have agreed with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) to explore the feasibility of producing blue ammonia (NH3) in the UAE.

The feasibility study will look at the commercial potential of producing ammonia in Abu Dhabi and then transporting it to Japan. The study’s specific remit is 1 million tonnes per annum of blue ammonia, reported S&P Global Platts, quoting a Jogmec source.

The four companies will evaluate the production of ammonia with a reduced carbon footprint from natural gas-derived hydrogen. Most of the CO2 emitted from the production of ammonia would be sequestered and utilised in enhanced oil recovery operations at oilfields onshore Abu Dhabi, in which Japan's largest upstream company Inpex has a participating interest.

The joint study is reportedly intended for completion by November.

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Ammonia is used as a fertiliser and for industrial materials and could also be a future energy source, along with hydrogen. Ammonia does not emit carbon dioxide when burned for thermal power generation, but its production produces emissions if it is made with fossil fuels.
Japan has set a target to grow the nation’s annual ammonia fuel demand to 3 million tonnes by 2030 from zero currently, and to create a new supply chain of the fuel in a bid to cut CO2 emissions and combat climate change.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in January signed its first ammonia deal in cooperation with Adnoc. Tokyo intends to develop its supply chain of blue ammonia, potentially from the Middle East, by the late 2020s.

The agreement to pursue the joint feasibility study was reached during a bilateral meeting between METI Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama and Adnoc chief executive Ahmed Al Jaber.

During this week’s virtual meeting, the ministers reviewed joint efforts between both countries to enhance industrial cooperation and drive new opportunities for partnerships in hydrogen, renewables and climate change.

"As we increase our focus on the potential of new lower carbon fuels and navigate the energy transition, the UAE and Adnoc are keen to build and strengthen our existing partnerships and seize growth opportunities with Japan that can help produce more energy with fewer emissions," Al Jaber said in a statement.

"This joint study agreement with Inpex, Jera and Jogmec provides a roadmap for us to deepen access to Japanese markets for Adnoc's products and further strengthen the UAE's hydrogen value proposition."

Adnoc is already embarking on a world-scale blue ammonia production facility at the TA’ZIZ Industrial Chemicals Zone in Ruwais which will have a capacity of 1000 kilotons per annum, and further opportunities in blue ammonia will be explored under this week’s new agreement.

Adnoc said Japan is its largest international importer of oil and gas products with approximately 25% of the nation's crude oil supplied from the UAE.