Equinor and Vår Energi leave Barents Blue ammonia project as new partner joins

Norwegian energy companies Equinor and Vår Energi are withdrawing from the Horisont Energi-operated Barents Blue project, also known as Europe’s first large-scale blue ammonia production facility.

Horisont Energi

Equinor and Vår Energi decided to leave the project as the cooperation agreement expired on 31 January. The companies joined the Barents Blue collaboration project in 2021.

The Barents Blue concept is to make ammonia from natural gas from the Barents Sea, capture the CO2 and store it under the seabed.

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The Polaris CO2 storage under the Barents Sea was selected as the CO2 storage solution for the Barents Blue project, and it has had the same partners as the Barents Blue project.

Consequently, Equinor has also concluded to not take further part in the Polaris CO2 storage project. Horisont Energi said it will invite new partners into the Polaris CO2 storage licence, including a qualified operator. A new licence group will bring the project forward to the submission of plan for development. 

However, Equnior added it remains positive to explore gas supply solutions from Hammerfest LNG to the Barents Blue project following the changes in the partnership.

Vår Energi joined the project following Equinor and Horisont Energi’s efforts to establish an ammonia factory in Hammerfest, including CO2 capture and storage, with the purpose to explore tie-in of the Alke and Goliat gas resources to Barents Blue while also contributing to a more comprehensive solution for the region overall.

The partnership has worked actively to reach a concept decision, but the overall situation has led to the decision to seek other solutions, Vår Energi explained.

Spanish ammonia producer is new partner in Barents Blue project

On 1 February, Horisont Energi announced a cooperation agreement with the Spanish company ammonia producer Fertiberia as a new partner to join the project.

The companies are aiming at a full partnership agreement from 1 April 2023, after which they will hold 50% each in the Barents Blue project.

“We are proud to announce the cooperation agreement with Fertiberia providing significant experience and competence in developing green ammonia projects on an industrial scale. Fertiberia and Horisont Energi share the ambition of accelerating the transition to carbon neutrality through pioneering projects”, said Bjørgulf Haukelidsæter Eidesen, CEO of Horisont Energi.

“Equinor and Vår Energi have been instrumental in maturing the project in the development phase ending 31 January. We look forward to work with Fertiberia to realize the project and hence contribute to the decarbonisation of European industry and transportation.”

The Barents Blue project is said to be Europe’s largest clean ammonia production plant located in Finnmark, in Northern Norway.

Once the first train is operational, Barents Blue is planned to produce 1 million tonnes of clean ammonia and it will be, according to the operator, the most energy-efficient blue ammonia plant in the world with a best-in-class carbon footprint and well aligned with the EU taxonomy.

The project is supported by a grant of NOK 482 million (around $47.8 million) under the EU IPCEI hydrogen program, which is not affected by the changes in the partner consortium.