Photo: Courtesy of the Port of Corpus Christi; YouTube screenshot

Port of Corpus Christi, HEP eye carbon-neutral (blue) hydrogen production facility

The US Port of Corpus Christi Authority and compatriot energy company Howard Midstream Energy Partners (HEP) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) as they intend to convert Howard’s Javelina refinery services facility into the region’s first carbon-neutral hydrogen production facility.

Howard’s Javelina facility is strategically positioned in the Port of Corpus Christi with pipeline connectivity to all six of the local refineries.

Javelina controls approximately sixty million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of hydrogen production through a combination of hydrogen entrained in the refineries’ waste gas that the facility processes, and hydrogen produced through a steam methane reformer process. This hydrogen is currently sold back to refineries and other industries where it is used to remove impurities like sulfur during the refining process.

The Port of Corpus Christi and Howard ultimately hope to scale hydrogen production for exports to overseas demand centers.

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

Hydrogen is a flexible energy carrier with high energy density. It has many of the same applications as traditional fossil fuels yet produces no carbon emissions. It can be combusted directly or used in fuel cells and offers the most viable path to reducing emissions in the shipping, steel, and cement industries. Hydrogen atoms can be separated from water (H2O) or from natural gas (CH4), the latter of which is in abundance at the Port of Corpus Christi due to direct connections to the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale production fields.

Specifically, Howard intends to capture its carbon emissions at Javelina, avoiding atmospheric release which contributes to global warming. The parties will collaborate to identify uses for the residual CO2 as well as capture and storage options. Captured COcan be directed to industries that require it for production, such as steel, or that assimilate it, like cement.

The Port of Corpus Christi has the potential of becoming the nation’s premier carbon capture and sequestration management hub based on the high density of industrial COemitters, a robust network of existing pipeline infrastructure, and the port authority’s ownership of lands leading to state waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Academics from the University of Texas at Austin have mapped the geology of the Texas Gulf Coast and have determined this region is uniquely suited for injection and storage of pressurized CO2. The Port of Corpus Christi has committed to developing much-needed infrastructure to collect and pressurize CO2 for injection in permanent geological storage formations offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

On August 7, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Sixth Assessment Report which calls for immediate, unified and aggressive action if the nations of the world are to avoid the most dire impacts of climate change, such as devastating drought and more frequent and intense storms. The report defines the imperative for elimination of all COemissions by 2050 and for the development of infrastructure to capture and permanently store carbon.

In the wake of the IPCC report, the Port of Corpus Christi has redoubled its commitment to lead atmospheric decarbonization of the energy sector and to embrace 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,” Sean Strawbridge, Chief Executive Officer for the Port of Corpus Christi, pointed out.

“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.”