People and projects from around the PETROFAC world

People and projects from around the PETROFAC world


It was billed as the summit that would ‘keep 1.5C alive”, even as a “turning point for humanity”, with a focus on “coal, cars, cash and trees”. So how did the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) actually measure up, and of the pledges and pronouncements that emerged where can Petrofac add most value?


It was not the “turning point for humanity” that UK prime minister Boris Johnson promised. But neither could the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November be written off as, in environmental activist Greta Thunberg’s words, just “business as usual and blah blah blah".

There were some big announcements and pledges that will have a direct impact on Petrofac’s future work, balanced as the company is between helping ‘old’ energy producers to reduce and capture their emissions and engineering ‘new’ energy net zero solutions.

Eye-catching outcomes included more countries announcing pledges to go carbon neutral – including, for the first time, India, though at a slower pace than Europe.

Richer nations will double the amount of ‘adaptation finance’ - to US$40 billion every year from 2025 – to help low and middle-income countries to mitigate the impacts of climate change that they will disproportionately suffer (there was a memorable address from Simon Kofe, foreign minister of Tuvalu, an island nation in the South Pacific, delivered knee-deep in the sea).

And hundreds of financial institutions announced they will move trillions of dollars of investments out of fossil fuels and into companies committed to net-zero emissions.

“This is all very positive for us,” says Jonathan Carpenter, Vice President, New Energy Services. “The scale of the commitment from the world’s lenders, US$130 trillion, to finance carbon reduction was particularly striking.” The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (Gfanz) representing 450 banks and insurers committed this sum to tackle climate change between now and 2050.

And Jonathan believes that countries will only be upping their commitments each year going into the next COP rounds in Egypt (COP27) and the Middle East (COP28).

“We’re already seeing lots of activity in both regions around carbon capture and green hydrogen,” he says. “The UAE is targeting an increase in the contribution of clean energy in their total energy mix from 25% to 50% by 2050 and is looking to reduce the carbon footprint of power generation by 70%. In Glasgow it announced that it’s targeting a 25% global market share of low-carbon hydrogen by 2030. We are well placed to help them achieve this.”

So of the pledges and announcements made at COP26, where can Petrofac add most value?



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Jennifer Walker (right) with a member of the Hub team


The big so-called ‘Glasgow Breakthroughs’, part of an international plan to deliver clean and affordable technology everywhere by 2030, were in five key areas: power, road transport, steel, hydrogen and agriculture. Of these power and hydrogen are key markets and areas of strength for Petrofac, but we are also working on some unusual and exciting projects that support the decarbonisation of transport too. The relevant pledges are:

Power:  Clean power is the most affordable and reliable option for all countries to meet their power needs efficiently by 2030.

Hydrogen: Affordable renewable and low carbon hydrogen is globally available by 2030.

Road Transport: Zero emission vehicles are the new normal and accessible, affordable, and sustainable in all regions by 2030.

Petrofac has been rapidly expanding its offer in New Energies, with the medium-term aim of building a US$1bn business providing engineering, EPC and O&M services across the carbon capture and storage (CCUS), offshore wind, hydrogen and waste-to-value sectors.

We have also committed to reducing our Scope 1 (direct emissions from, for example, production processes) and Scope 2 (indirect emissions such as from the energy we purchase) emissions to Net Zero by 2030. It’s worth defining the terms here: by Net Zero we mean no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere as a result of the emissions associated with Petrofac’s activities. Residual emissions will be offset by carbon credits.

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“Most people use apps in their personal lives – a lot of our offshore workers travel to reach their worksite and will sit on planes or trains on their phones.”

Controversially it was a phase-down rather than a phase-out final agreement on coal, after some last-minute lobbying from China and, according to India, the US. Because its representative read out the amended text, India claims it has been unfairly blamed for diluting the agreement, but it is true that the country is heavily reliant on coal – the single biggest contributor to anthropogenic climate change – for peak power.

The phase-down will apply to unabated coal – in other words the focus will be using Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), or Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) technology. But some 46 countries, including the UK, Canada, Poland and Vietnam, made commitments to phase out their domestic coal. And 29 countries including the UK, Canada, Germany and Italy pledged to stop any new direct international public support for unabated fossil fuels by the end of 2022 – and to redirect this investment to clean energy.

Projects likely to be supported are of the sort Petrofac is working on with specialist technology firm CO2 Capsol to target carbon capture and storage work globally. The partners are planning a CO2 capture facility at a combined heat and power plant in Sweden, for Stockholm Exergi. It will be the largest Bio Energy Carbon Capture and Storage (Bio-CCS) plant anywhere in Europe, capable of capturing 800,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year – or the total annual CO2 emissions from all traffic in Stockholm.

We are also providing Engineering and Project Management Office support for the Acorn carbon capture and storage project in the North Sea. Based in Scotland, Acorn is tackling climate change by dealing with industrial CO2 emissions and other ‘hard to decarbonise’ sectors by making use of existing oil and gas pipelines. The offshore geology is ideal for permanently storing carbon dioxide.

To complement the focus on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the technology exists to remove carbon dioxide and other emissions from the atmosphere directly. Direct Air Capture was specifically mentioned at COP26 as part of a joint China/US statement on climate cooperation, that included  methane reduction, decarbonisation and deforestation. And the European Investment Bank announced an “EU-Catalyst” programme to raise US$1 billion over the next five years to “boost investments in critical climate technologies”, including direct air capture. Significant funding for direct air capture has also been announced by the United States.

The first large-scale Direct Air Capture facility in Europe could be up and running in Scotland as soon as 2026, following a successful feasibility study earlier this year. Storegga Geotechnologies and Canadian partners Carbon Engineering say the plant will remove up to one million tonnes of CO2 every year – or the amount absorbed by 40 million trees. The extracted gas could be stored permanently deep under the seabed off the Scottish coast. Petrofac is providing the Pre-Front End Engineering and Design (“Pre-FEED”).

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“The scale of the commitment from the world’s lenders, $130 trillion, to finance carbon reduction was particularly striking.”

Jonathan Carpenter

At COP26 both Air Products and Mitsubishi’s NEXT Energy Business said blue hydrogen (hydrogen made from fossil fuels but with the carbon captured and stored) will be important initially to help build scale in the market and build demand.

Most players see a transition period of 20 or more years in countries such as the UK, in which blue hydrogen will play a key role. Petrofac is helping the oil and gas industry meet this need, applying its transferable knowledge and capability to use the sector’s UK offshore infrastructure to pipe the CO2 back to offshore reservoirs.

But green hydrogen is the ultimate goal – hydrogen produced from sustainable energies such as wind and solar power. We covered Infinite Blue Energy’s Arrowsmith – one of the world’s first green hydrogen projects – in Petrofacts in July. Petrofac is providing the Front-End Engineering Design of the plant, whose hydrogen will be sold as road fuel for Australia’s trucks, which ticks off two of the key Glasgow Breakthroughs in one project.

But a more recent development is a project emerging from Petrofac’s strategic partnership with green hydrogen specialists Protium. The two companies are helping one of the UK’s largest breweries, Magor in South Wales, to become the first to be run entirely on green hydrogen.

The Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, part of Anheuser-Busch InBev, has commissioned Protium to build a large-scale hydrogen generation system, currently at engineering concept stage.

Budweiser Brewing Group already has a wind turbine and solar farm operating on-site, and these energy sources will be used to make the green hydrogen at Protium’s Hydrogen Production Facility (HPF). The facility will not only provide the energy for the beer plant but will also fuel its delivery fleet (some 300 lorries come and go every day) and forklift trucks, which will be converted to accept the sustainable fuel. It will save over 15,500 tonnes of CO2-equivalent every year from 2027 – the equivalent of removing 3,300 cars from UK roads or 12,000 long-haul flights every year.  

The demand for zero-emission fuel, whether hydrogen or biofuel, is set to soar as cities in 34 countries and 11 big car-makers agreed at COP26 to work towards selling only zero-emission vehicles globally by 2040 (the European Union has already effectively banned the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035).   

Transferrable skills
“Hydrocarbons will continue to be important, in some countries more than others, but even those most associated with oil and gas are pivoting rapidly to more sustainable fuel sources,” says Jonathan Carpenter.

“The UAE, who will host COP28, is both very sunny and windswept, the two natural feedstocks for green hydrogen production. We have built our New Energies business from within and largely with existing home-grown resource as their skills and experience are highly transferrable. It’s exciting as we head out of COP26 and towards ever-tightening climate targets to be in a position to help all our clients to benefit from and contribute to the decarbonisation imperative.”

‘A more recent development is a project emerging from Petrofac’s strategic partnership with green hydrogen specialists Protium. The two companies are helping one of the UK’s largest breweries, Magor in South Wales, to become the first to be run entirely on green hydrogen.’

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