Carbon Capture and Hydrogen are Hot Topics at the Baker Hughes Annual Meeting

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Speakers at Baker Hughes Annual Meeting said natural gas and LNG have significantly lower emissions than their hydrocarbon counterparts, but are they the right energy source for the future?

Carbon capture and the evolving hydrogen economy loomed large at the Baker Hughes Annual Meeting (AM) this week in Florence, Italy. Speakers noted that natural gas and LNG have significantly lower emissions than their hydrocarbon counterparts, but does this make them the right energy source for the future? Is it even possible to make natural gas net-zero? And if so, what will be the role of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and methane emissions abatement in meeting environmental targets?

Energy Diversity

Many have made the point that energy diversity is a smart policy. Putting all one’s energy eggs in a single basket can lead to problems. Too much reliance on renewables or too much dependence on gas or coal has seen some regions run out of available power at times.

But Maria Sferruzza, Executive Vice President of International Engineering, Construction & Solutions at Snam, provided a different benefit of fuel source diversity: security. A total of 70 bcm of LNG was suddenly needed in Europe to replace Russian LNG contracts when war broke out.

“LNG strengthens the natural gas market in Europe and will play a part in our energy mix for a long time to come,” said Sferruzza. “Diversity of supply is needed for security and lowest cost of supply.”

Italy benefited from its already strong natural gas infrastructure. When a new LNG import terminal came online in the south of the country, the pipelines were there to carry gas to major markets. Further, Snam has been expanding the pipeline network in the southern part of Italy to make it as strong as that in the north while making the entire network hydrogen-compatible.

“The Italian infrastructure is ready for 100% hydrogen,” said Sferruzza.

As well as supporting hydrogen, Snam is addressing methane abatement throughout its network. This consists of instrumentation upgrades to be able to detect methane leakage and verify pipeline integrity, as well as equipment to capture methane and recompress the captured gas to boost utilization and efficiency.

CCS, too, is being implemented. Sferruzza believes this is a particularly important technology for the hard-to-abate heavy industries that comprise 5% of Italian GDP and 5% of its employee base. A CCS value chain has been built as a partnership between Italy and France.


“We need to generate the right business model for CCS to make it economically viable,” she said. “Repurposing our pipeline infrastructure to also carry CO2 will help to reduce CO2 prices for storage and transportation.”

More LNG Needed

Toby Rice, President & CEO of EQT, made it clear that the world needs more gas and more LNG now.

“We need more than three times the current volume of LNG being produced to be able to replace coal usage worldwide,” he said. “This is a massive opportunity for the natural gas industry.”

As for the environmental impact of gas, Rice noted that more than 40% of natural gas producers have already signed on to meet zero or near-zero methane emissions by 2030. He said the technology already exists to pinpoint methane sources.

At EQT, for example, a certain widely used pneumatic device turned out to be the company’s biggest source of methane emissions. The company replaced all 9,000 of these devices within 18 months. This lowered companywide methane emissions by 70%. In addition, the EQT is partnering with others to conduct aerial monitoring of an area the size of France to look for any and all methane emissions.

Rice is critical of environmental lobbyists who attempt to stop any new pipeline projects. For one thing, more natural gas and less coal equals lower emissions. And by making these new pipelines hydrogen-ready, the network can move closer to net zero via hydrogen blending.

“The argument that we should not build pipelines is ridiculous, as they will be needed for the changeover from coal to gas and then even more as hydrogen becomes available for power generation and when we start to capture carbon at an industrial scale,” said Rice.

With the Inflation Reduction Act and other regulations now providing incentives for CCS, he believes a lot more CO2 can be gathered, transported, and stored underground.

Energy Producer Takes Action

Alessandro Puliti, CEO & General Manager of Saipem, is another energy producer that is taking effective action to lower emissions.

“Gas is the fuel of today, will be the fuel of tomorrow, and offers plenty of opportunities to reduce its carbon footprint,” he said.

Puliti ran through a number of ways this can be achieved. Hybrid power can combine gas turbines and solar power, for example, to provide power assurance, low cost, and low emissions. His company is one of the many that have pledged zero methane leakage by 2030. Saipem offers zero-flaring technology to power plants and other areas of the infrastructure to detect any fugitive methane emissions.

“All new design and engineering for our new plants is done to ensure zero flaring and zero fugitive emissions while lowering the physical and environmental footprint,” Puliti said. “We are also retrofitting this technology on the existing network.”

For example, one client has found a way to utilize boil-off gas from its LNG storage facility, which was previously flared or vented. This improves the efficiency of the ecosystem.

“Without LNG, we couldn’t have coped with the Russian crisis,” said Puliti. “LNG is essential in moving energy around the world.”

Liquid hydrogen transportation, he said, is problematic due to its lack of energy density. Instead, he sees a future for low-carbon ammonia as an easier way to transport hydrogen. It can either be converted to hydrogen as a gas for energy production or used as a raw material for fertilizer and other uses.

“We have received many requests for low-carbon plants using ammonia such as one we are building in Australia,” said Puliti. “Ammonia is the best way to transport hydrogen on ships.”