There are fewer than 3,000 miles of pipelines carrying Hydrogen (H2) in operation in North America and fewer than 5,000 miles in use across the world. Nearly all of these pipelines are short lines carrying H2 as a commodity to be used in a manufacturing process.
However, soon the concept of using H2 as a lower-carbon fuel source will become economical enough to gain wide acceptance in key sectors of our economy. This is why ExxonMobil Pipeline Company and others in our industry are preparing to begin building a new network of large capacity H2 pipelines.
Because Hydrogen does not naturally occur in a usable form in large quantities, it must be manufactured, not unlike gasoline or electricity, which itself requires energy. Although H2 can be manufactured using renewable energy sources, in the near term, the most economical method will use natural gas and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) to avoid the resulting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from reaching the atmosphere.
In 2022, ExxonMobil announced it is planning to build one of the largest hydrogen production projects in the world at its integrated refining and petrochemical site in Baytown, Texas. The proposed hydrogen facility would produce up to 1 billion cubic feet per day of “blue” hydrogen, which is an industry term for hydrogen produced from natural gas and supported by carbon capture and storage. The carbon capture infrastructure for this project would capture more than 98 percent of the associated CO2 emissions and have the capacity to transport and store up to 10 million metric tons of CO2 per year.
ExxonMobil Pipeline Company is planning to build and operate the CO2 and H2 pipelines that would support the Baytown Hydrogen plant, which would be the largest low-carbon hydrogen project in the world at planned startup in 2027-2028.
In the meantime, ExxonMobil Pipeline Company will work with industry and regulators to help ensure the impending buildout of the H2 pipeline infrastructure is conducted safely and responsibly.