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Editorial comment

In its advertising campaign being run across UK newspapers at the moment, Aramco asks in big bold letters: How can we deliver one of the fuels of the future? The advert focuses on hydrogen’s role in the future energy mix and introduces Aramco’s efforts to deliver hydrogen around the world in a commercially viable way.

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Aramco has taken part in a pilot project that comprised a network demonstration covering the complete hydrocarbon value chain. Aramco, similar to other oil and gas majors, has worked for many years on producing hydrogen from hydrocarbons. Burning methane creates hydrogen and CO2. ‘Blue’ hydrogen is achieved when hydrogen is extracted and CO2 emissions are captured and either recycled, removed or reused.

Hydrogen is difficult, and therefore expensive, to transport. It is a light molecule that can be liquefied for transportation purposes, but this liquefaction requires a steady temperature of -245°C. The advert briefly describes Aramco’s work (in partnership with SABIC) on tackling this problem by converting hydrogen to blue ammonia. The two companies, working with the Institute of Energy Economics Japan (IEEJ), successfully shipped 40 t of high-grade blue ammonia to Japan in August 2020, for use in cleaner-power generation activities. Once blue ammonia reaches its destination, it can be converted back into blue hydrogen, or used as a fuel for power generation.

Need a breakdown of some of the different types of hydrogen before we continue?

  • Black/brown hydrogen is produced using coal and emissions are released to the air.
  • Grey hydrogen is produced from natural gas and the associated emissions are released to the air.
  • Blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas and emissions are captured using carbon capture and storage.
  • Green hydrogen is produced from electrolysis powered by renewable electricity.

Aramco’s tagline for its advert is: ‘powered by how’ and my interpretation of that tagline is that it emphasises the importance of asking questions. So many of the solutions to our current global energy challenges begin with a ‘how can we…?’ question. The recent COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow was powered by questions beginning with ‘how..’: ‘how can we tackle climate change?’; ‘how can we work together to deliver on our promises?’; ‘how can we update our plans for reducing emissions?’.

The question is the starting place, and those who strive to answer it should be applauded. At World Pipelines, we publish articles in which companies from all over the world seek to answer questions asked by the oil and gas pipeline industry; with the aim of improving the safety and efficacy of the pipeline sector.

We have published a string of articles about hydrogen pipelines recently. In a two-part series (October and November 2021 issues), T.D. Williamson discussed ‘Making way for hydrogen’: outlining how to assess existing pipelines for their suitability for conversion to hydrogen; the pigging and inspection of repurposed pipelines prior to beginning hydrogen service; and how intervention and isolation techniques can help support the transformation of pipeline networks. Pipeline Research Limited has recently written about pig motion and behaviour in hydrogen and hydrocarbon/hydrogen mix pipelines. SGN also wrote a two-parter, about the performance of polyethylene pipeline systems for hydrogen gas distribution. One more that comes to mind is an article by ILF Consulting Engineers, which explored the impact of hydrogen blending on the transport capacity of natural gas pipelines.

There are more hydrogen pipeline-related articles to come in 2022, so look out for those and don’t forget to keep your free subscription to the magazine up-to-date (sign up or log in to update your account here: or sign up for our sister publication, Global Hydrogen Review (

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