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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

BP Pushes Hydrogen As Fuel For The Future Of The Planet

BP chief executive Bernard Looney is betting on hydrogen to power future low-carbon businesses as the governments of major economies stump up cash to develop the fuel to decarbonize.

Photo Insert: To expand its blue hydrogen business, BP counts on its oil and gas experience to build carbon capture and storage facilities, where carbon is injected into depleted reservoirs.

Low-carbon hydrogen already has a big fan base and is forecast to play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from heavy industries and some forms of transport, Ron Bousso reported for Reuters.

But it is expensive to produce and often needs government support to compete against fossil fuels. The US, for example, is offering large incentives for producing it under President Joe Biden's $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

BP has been quick to react and is in the early planning stages to develop a large, low-carbon hydrogen hub around its Whiting, Indiana refinery, Tomeka McLeod, BP's newly-appointed head of hydrogen in the US, told Reuters.

When Looney took office nearly three years ago, he pledged to reshape BP and cut carbon emissions by reducing oil and gas output and growing renewables. He is preparing to update investors on Feb. 7 on where things stand.

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The UK company has overhauled its structure to create a dedicated hydrogen division led by Felipe Arbelaez which includes 150 staff. It also made several investments in large hydrogen projects, including in Australia, Europe and Britain.

It is also exploring the potential for developing green hydrogen in Oman, the company told Reuters, and is also looking into projects in Mauritania. BP's spending on low-carbon hydrogen remains modest but is expected to grow into the hundreds of millions by the end of the decade as projects get underway, the company sources said.

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BP spent roughly a quarter of its $15.5 billion budget in 2022 on low-carbon businesses, including the $4.1 billion acquisition of US biogas producer Archaea. Looney and BP's head of renewables Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath will unveil in February a target for clean hydrogen output for the first time, aiming to capture 10% share of hydrogen in "core markets" by 2030.

"Hydrogen will be a big focus and it is moving much faster than we ever thought it would," Chief Financial Officer Murray Auchincloss told Reuters last month. Most hydrogen is used in oil refining and the fertilizer industry and is usually made by heating natural gas, which is highly polluting and is known as grey hydrogen.

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Grey hydrogen becomes "blue hydrogen" if the pollutants are captured. There is also "green hydrogen", which is made by splitting water using renewable-powered electrolysis.

To expand its blue hydrogen business, BP counts on its oil and gas experience to build carbon capture and storage facilities, where carbon is injected into depleted reservoirs. It is also planning to boost its renewable power generation capacity to 50 gigawatts by 2030.

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