Equinor is making progress on its H2H Saltend hydrogen project in the UK, with the award of pre-front end engineering and design contracts.

The Norwegian operator has invited three contractors to participate in the pre-FEED work to develop the 600-megawatt H2H Saltend blue hydrogen project in the Humber, a large tidal estuary on the east coast of northern England.

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The selected contractors include a consortium of US company KBR and Italy’s Maire Tecnimont, France’s Technip Energies, as well as multinational chemical company Linde through its businesses at Linde Engineering and BOC UK.

The consortia will aim to deliver design proposals and compete for the lump-sum FEED work and option for engineering, procurement and construction execution and operations.

Equinor claims it received “huge interest” for the pre-FEED work, with the final three consortia chosen following a six-month prequalification process.

“The selected contractors are renowned for their engineering, procurement and construction and operating capabilities in the hydrogen/ammonia and carbon capture sector,” said Equinor’s project director for the H2H projects, Tanguy Cosmao.

“Our execution strategy enables adoption of proven technology and cost competitive solutions for first-of-a-kind projects and early engagement of UK construction and service companies.”

Equinor intends to select one of the consortia by the end of 2022 to move into the final FEED stage ahead of the final investment decision on the project the following year.

It claims the H2H Saltend project will enable fuel switching in 2026-2027 resulting in a carbon dioxide emissions reduction of 1.1 million tonnes per annum.

The pre-FEED study will also be used to support the delivery of a further 1.2 gigawatts of blue hydrogen production to supply SEE Thermal and Equinor’s proposed Keadby project, which the partnership claims could be the world’s first 100% hydrogen-fired power station.

Equinor expects the Keadby plant to start up in 2028 or 2029, with a resulting CO2 emissions reduction of about 2 million tpa.

Equinor noted that the total 1.8 GW production capacity of the projects would account for a third of the UK government’s 5 GW “low carbon” hydrogen production goal.

“Equinor is dedicated to delivering hydrogen to the Humber and contributing to the development of the UK’s hydrogen economy through the H2H Saltend project and then expanding that experience with the Keadby Hydrogen project,” said Equinor's vice president for UK Low Carbon Solutions, Dan Sadler.

“Producing hydrogen from natural gas with carbon capture and storage [CCS] provides a practical, scalable solution to decarbonise a wide range of sectors that currently depend on fossil fuel.”

H2H Saltend forms part of the wider East Coast Cluster — which brings together the BP-led Net Zero Teesside and Equinor-led Zero Carbon Humber schemes.

The East Coast Cluster was recently selected by the UK government’s Cluster Sequencing process as one of the first two industrial clusters that will be the initial beneficiaries of a £1 billion (US$1.4 billion) pot of state funding as the UK aims to get at least two CCS schemes up and running by the mid-2020s and four by the end of the decade.