BP targeting clean hydrogen at Whiting refinery
The vice president of U.S. business development and integration for BP (NYSE: BP) says the company wants to ensure the Whiting refinery continues to be a key part of its portfolio by adding a strong focus on hydrogen.
BP is looking to create its own hydrogen hub at the 133-year-old northwest Indiana refinery as Indiana also seeks to put itself on the map for clean hydrogen production.
“We are already in action on the ground to learn more about the potential [of hydrogen], and so those projects are already moving forward,” said Damian Bilbao. “We expect to make an investment decision on these projects over the next two to three years.”
Bilbao told Inside INdiana Business Host Gerry Dick the effort in Whiting is part of growing plans for hydrogen production around the world, including a similar project at its Teesside location in northeast England.
“We’ve announced that we’re progressing a hydrogen project near an industrial site; that should sound familiar to folks familiar with northwest Indiana,” he said. “That project in eastern England is hiring thousands of jobs for construction, up to close to 10,000, in fact, a couple thousand jobs long-term for operation [and] billions of dollars of investment. That’s a pretty significant investment in a community, and that’s a good analog for what we would do in northwest Indiana.”
BP has also announced in recent months efforts to explore clean hydrogen production in other countries, including Egypt, Germany and Spain.
Bilbao said the project in Whiting presents a strong opportunity for decarbonization in the region, which has a strong manufacturing base.
“To put that in context, the total emissions in northwest Indiana are four times the emissions of the city of Indianapolis. And we believe that the investment we would bring to bear could reduce that by as much as half or more.”
Bilbao credits efforts from the state government to support hydrogen production, particularly in the realm of carbon capture and sequestration.
In September, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill into law creating a regulatory framework for companies to store captured carbon dioxide underground in Indiana.
“[The bill] really started the clock for Indiana where many other states haven’t even taken that first step,” said Bilbao. “As you might imagine, something of this scale with this price tag takes a little bit of time before you can get all the ducks in a row to be able to make a decision. The goal is to be able to start producing clean hydrogen before the end of the decade.”
BP is also part of a group of business, academic and government stakeholders that recently joined with a coalition representing Michigan and Illinois in an effort to land a share of $7 billion in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to create a Midwest Hydrogen Hub.
Bilbao said Indiana has taken a leadership role in the effort to make sure the state gets its fair share of funding.
“The important part of that is not just producing hydrogen and using it for industrial purposes but also making sure that we decarbonize mobility as well,” he said. “Indiana can be an important part of making sure that…on-the-road trucks or rail or marine use or airline use can all benefit in through the decarbonization benefits of hydrogen.”
Bilbao said the Whiting refinery could begin producing clean hydrogen by 2028.