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The Port of Corpus Christi Authority and Howard Midstream Energy Partners, LLC (Howard/HEP) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) expressing their aim to convert Howard’s Javelina refinery services facility into the region’s first carbon-neutral hydrogen production facility.

Howard’s Javelina facility is conveniently located in the Port of Corpus Christi and is connected to all six local refineries via pipeline. Javelina controls around sixty million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of hydrogen production via a combination of hydrogen entrained in the refineries’ waste gas and hydrogen created via a steam methane reformer process. Currently, this hydrogen is sold back to refineries and other sectors for use in the removal of pollutants such as sulfur during the refining process. In the long run, the Port of Corpus Christi and Howard intend to grow hydrogen production for export to international demand areas.

“With this exciting project and progressive partnership with the Port of Corpus Christi, we are demonstrating yet again our commitment to delivering clean, reliable energy that powers communities and business around the world,”  said Mike Howard, HEP Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Hydrogen is a highly efficient and versatile energy carrier with a high energy density. It is used in many of the same applications as conventional fossil fuels but emits no carbon dioxide. It can be directly combustible or used in fuel cells and represents the most plausible road forward in the steel, cement, and shipping industries for decreasing emissions. Hydrogen atoms can be extracted from either water (H2O) or natural gas (CH4), the latter of which is plentiful at the Port of Corpus Christi due to direct access to the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale production sectors.

Howard plans to collect its carbon emissions at Javelina, so preventing atmospheric emissions that contribute to global warming. The Parties will work together to explore potential uses for residual CO2, as well as capture and storage alternatives. Carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere can be directed to businesses that require it for manufacturing, such as steel, or that assimilate it, such as cement.

The Port of Corpus Christi is uniquely positioned to serve as the nation’s premier carbon capture and sequestration management hub due to its high concentration of industrial CO2 emitters, robust network of existing pipeline infrastructure, and the Port Authority’s ownership of lands leading to state waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Academics at the University of Texas in Austin mapped the geology of the Texas Gulf Coast and discovered that this location is ideally suited for pressurized CO2 injection and storage. The Port of Corpus Christi has committed to constructing critical infrastructure for collecting and pressurizing CO2 for injection into permanent geological storage formations offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

“To the extent that our identity as the leading export gateway for U.S. produced hydrocarbons has been solidified, we see an elegant symmetry in the prospect of becoming the nation’s premier hub for carbon management,” said Jeff Pollack, Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer for the Port of Corpus Christi.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Sixth Assessment Report on August 7, calling for immediate, coordinated, and aggressive action if the world’s nations are to avoid the most dire consequences of climate change, such as devastating drought and more frequent and intense storms. The paper outlines the critical need to eliminate all CO2 emissions by 2050 and to construct infrastructure for carbon capture and storage.

In response to the IPCC report, the Port of Corpus Christi has reaffirmed its commitment to leading the energy sector’s atmospheric decarbonization and to embracing the energy transition.

“The mandate in the latest IPCC report is clear, and while the energy sector certainly can’t shoulder this responsibility on its own, we must lead by example,” said Sean Strawbridge, Chief Executive Officer for the Port of Corpus Christi. “Our future as the ‘Energy Port of the Americas’ starts with building a scalable carbon capture and storage solution to serve the needs of our existing customers and convert more Texas gas into carbon neutral hydrogen for the global markets.”

Nedim Husomanovic

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