Study moots 1,000 km hydrogen pipeline to serve North Oman

MUSCAT: A key study commissioned by Asyad Group – the integrated logistics provider of the Sultanate of Oman – envisions the potential for the development of a dedicated pipeline carrying hydrogen produced in the central and southern parts of the country to consumption centres in the north.

Titled, ‘Potential of the Hydrogen Transition for Ports in the Sultanate of Oman’, the report was released last month as the product of a collaborative effort involving the Oman Hydrogen Center (OHC) – part of the German University of Technology (GUtech), and Dii Desert Energy, a prominent international think-thank.

According to the study, a dedicated hydrogen pipeline becomes viable if gas-based power generation plants and some industries as well, switch to low-emission hydrogen as an alternative to natural gas. It has outlined in this regard the potential for a roughly 1000 km-long pipeline, of 40 – 42-inch diameter, running from the south of Oman to the north, and with a flow rate of 2 million m3/hour of hydrogen. This equates to roughly 500,000 tonnes of hydrogen/annum, which translates into 16.5 terawatt-hours (TWh) of low heat value.

“If the energy supply reaches the levels while the demand is still high or even increasing, there is a possibility to build a second pipeline,” the report noted. “The investment costs for the pipelines described above would amount to about USD3 billion, depending on the routing, landscape and elevation profile, compression, and the material to be used such as green steel.”

However, hydrogen transportation costs could be reduced by leveraging existing pipeline networks, particularly those owned and operated by OQ Gas Networks (OQGN), says the report.

OQGN, a subsidiary of OQ Group, is understood to be weighing the feasibility of repurposing its vast pipeline network with the goal of enabling the transportation of a blend of natural gas and hydrogen.

While a 5 per cent blend with hydrogen is generally considered technically feasible and safe without network modifications, it can however pose challenges to some end-users that may not be able to use blended mixtures, the report warns. In any event, low blending ratios offer minimal emissions-saving benefits and are not considered a viable option, it further points out.

Another option is to upgrade the existing natural gas pipeline network to support the transportation of hydrogen. This option, while technically possible, would however require the pipeline system to be internally coated as a safeguard against corrosion. However, once upgraded, it can no longer transport natural gas, necessitating thus a carefully-timed decision that coincides with the complete phase-out of gas from the pipeline grid, it states.

Significantly, the proposed hydrogen pipeline, while serving as a transport system, will also double as a storage system itself, given its length and capacity. It can also be further optimized as a buffer storage tank, the report adds.

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