Germany’s state-owned gas supplier SEFE (Securing Energy for Europe) has signed a letter of intent to buy “giga-scale” amounts of low-carbon hydrogen from Norwegian oil giant Equinor, starting in 2029.

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“The clear ambition is to supply low-carbon hydrogen to SEFE at industrial scale, starting from 5TWh per year from 2029 and ramping stepwise up to 40TWh per year from 2050 towards 2060,” said a statement issued by both companies.

Presuming they are referring to the energy content of hydrogen at its higher heating value (as fossil-fuel companies usually do with natural gas), the 5TWh figure represents just under 127,000 tonnes a year, with 40TWh equating to just over a million tonnes.

The statement does not specify how the “low-carbon hydrogen” would be produced, but Equinor is developing both green and blue hydrogen projects, with the latter making use of its huge Norwegian gas reserves.

Nor does it specify where the H2 would be supplied from. State-owned Equinor is developing clean hydrogen projects in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the UK and Norway.

However, the two companies simultaneously announced a deal for Equinor to supply ten billion cubic metres of natural gas from the Norwegian continental shelf to SEFE annually from 2024 until at least 2034.

And Equinor states on its website that it believes that, in the future, Norwegian hydrogen “will underpin Europe’s energy security” and is planning an H2 pipeline between the two countries — a move supported by both governments.

These points suggest that the hydrogen would be supplied from Norway. Hydrogen Insight has approached Equinor for clarification.

SEFE is the successor organisation to Gazprom Germania, a Germany-based midstream supplier of gas owned by Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom, that was taken over by the German federal government in November 2022 — a knock-on effect of Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine.

Equinor CEO Anders Opedal said he was pleased to sign the letter of intent “to explore opportunities to supply SEFE with low-carbon hydrogen at industrial scale for decades to come, enabling European industries and flexible gas power plants to accelerate decarbonisation”.

SEFE CEO Egbert Laege added: “SEFE and Equinor share ambitious goals to accelerate the development of the hydrogen economy. This includes joint business opportunities related to transport and storage of hydrogen for the future. SEFE Group's storage company Astora could be a key building block in this.”