Houston, Antwerp-Bruges ports and partners pen energy transition accord

U.S. and Belgian cargo hubs Port Houston and the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, together with four other partners, have signed a landmark agreement to form a strategic alliance aimed at accelerating the transatlantic green transition.

Image credit: Port Houston

The two ports are joined by the Center for Houston’s Future, Waterstofnet Exmar, and the Blue Sky Maritime Coalition.

The partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreeing to explore a win-win partnership around an import-export coalition for renewable and low-carbon molecules, a green shipping corridor and the exchange of best practices, knowledge, and research.

The cooperation is being pursued on the heels of a changing regulatory landscape and ambitious climate targets on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Greater Houston area is home to some of the biggest energy producers in the world, and the increase in the production of renewable and low-carbon energy offers perspectives for future export.

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Belgium is a strategic energy hub in the heart of Europe, including for the import and transit of renewable and low-carbon molecules, with the Port of Antwerp-Bruges as a crucial gateway with extensive storage capacity and connectivity to European markets and huge off-take.

The Port of Antwerp-Bruges is already introducing alternative energy sources such as hydrogen and turning them into sustainable raw materials and fuel for the port’s chemical sector. The port is also expected to play a vital role in the import and local production of green hydrogen.

It has become a founding member of the German green hydrogen foundation H2Global which is expected to play a key role in the energy transition.

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“The Center for Houston’s Future, building on our recent trade mission to Germany and Poland in which we explored developing a transatlantic clean hydrogen alliance, was excited to welcome Prime Minister De Croo as he participated in a clean energy roundtable hosted by the Greater Houston Partnership,” said Center CEO Brett Perlman. “The discussion highlighted opportunities for collaboration, while the MOU creates a framework for deeper engagement with our colleagues in Belgium.”

“We are pleased to be a signatory to this MOU, which helps further strengthen Port Houston’s mission to drive job creation and economic prosperity for our region,” said Port Houston Chairman Ric Campo.

“Our history of collaboration between Port Houston and Port of Antwerp-Brugge, and between Texas and Belgium, is a century in the making.

“This agreement is a watershed moment to expand that cooperation and continue growing both relationships and critically important energy-related trade,” said Port Houston’s Chief Commercial Officer John Moseley.

“Today’s agreement advances our shared goals of growing prosperity through economic impact and environmental sustainability,” added Port Houston, Chief Infrastructure Officer Rich Byrnes.

Blue Sky Maritime Coalition brings together more than 120 member organizations, including leadership of the green shipping corridor from the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), to work on maritime decarbonization and transportation of clean energy fuels with the other partners.

“ABS is pleased to be leading the development of the Houston – Antwerp/Bruges Green Shipping Corridor in association with the MOU partners and other stakeholders. This corridor has a unique opportunity to address not only decarbonization of maritime operations between these great ports, but also to build out the assets and infrastructure for clean energy fuel transportation between these major energy hubs for the U.S. and Europe,” said ABS Chairman and CEO and Blue Sky Board Member, Christopher J. Wiernicki.

“Connecting the ambitions and investments of the U.S., including the Gulf Coast Hydrogen Hub development, with the EU to support the clean energy transition is a major strategic step for global decarbonization efforts.”

“Blue Sky Maritime Coalition members recognize the need to address global climate change and are committed to accelerating the transition of waterborne transportation toward net-zero GHG emissions. The extensive footprint of our member organizations in the Houston area and the broader Gulf Coast region will provide many opportunities for key partners and stakeholders to support these initiatives, including the development of the Houston – Antwerp/Bruges Green Shipping Corridor with is being led by ABS,” Blue Sky President, David Cummins, said.

“Success will require many different stakeholders and participants, so collaboration is key. We encourage all Blue Sky members, prospective members, and other stakeholders to join and support these efforts.”

EXMAR, a Belgian provider of floating solutions for gas operation, transportation, and transformation, manages a fleet exceeding 40 gas carriers and floating gas terminals.

The company recently announced the construction of the ‘world’s first’ ammonia-powered LPG carriers.

The two 46,000 cbm LPG carriers will be built at the Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in Ulsan and delivered sequentially to Exmar by May 2026. The duo is designed to transport both LPG and ammonia.

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The MoU represents an initial stride towards establishing a collaboration in the energy transition of all parties and the partners extended an open invitation to additional stakeholders from both sides to join the development of a comprehensive implementation roadmap.