Muscat: The Ministry of Energy and Minerals, in collaboration with the Department of Energy of the United States of America (USA), held a technical workshop on Geologic Hydrogen.
This workshop is part of the initiatives stemming from the strategic dialogue between the Sultanate of Oman and the United States of America, which was announced during the visit of the Secretary of State of the USA in 2022.
The first round of this dialogue was held in Muscat in February 2023 and encompasses three main areas: trade and investment, alternative energy, and education, culture, and science. Notably, this workshop represents the inaugural government-level event in the field of Geologic Hydrogen.
The workshop’s objectives include the exchange of information and ideas concerning Geologic Hydrogen, facilitating discussions on policies related to its exploration, and fostering commercial and academic partnerships and collaborations between the Sultanate of Oman and the United States of America in the area of cutting-edge energy research.
The workshop focused on the discussion of hydrogen, a natural substance formed deep within the Earth, with a particular emphasis on opportunities, methods, and strategies related to its exploration and extraction. Additionally, it delved into the phenomenon of natural hydrogen emissions occurring in various regions worldwide, including the Sultanate of Oman, particularly in the Hajar Mountains.
One common natural process that generates hydrogen involves the interaction of groundwater with iron-rich minerals, such as olivine rocks found in Oman. These rocks are characterized by their unique type as they contain significant fractures that can potentially facilitate the leakage of hydrogen to sites near the Earth’s surface. Furthermore, the workshop highlighted that Geologic Hydrogen possesses the potential to serve as a primary energy source that is cost-effective and environmentally friendly. It can be extracted from underground reserves through drilling procedures, similar to the extraction of other gases, once discovered in significant quantities.
Nonetheless, more extensive research and development efforts are needed to fully understand the technical and commercial possibilities and opportunities within this domain. Several participants also raised the prospect of geological hydrogen being a renewable resource due to the natural geological processes occurring underground.
Further, the workshop discussed various methods to stimulate the production of geological hydrogen and ongoing research related to this emerging field. During the workshop, the Ministry of Energy and Minerals made an announcement regarding the acceptance of research and experimental proposals in the realm of geological hydrogen exploration within the Sultanate of Oman, welcoming submissions from interested parties. Participants also acknowledged the significance of the positive measures undertaken by the Sultanate of Oman to promote environmental sustainability in a broader context, with a particular emphasis on advancing the renewable energy sector and clean hydrogen initiatives.
On the sidelines of this meeeting, Mohsen Hamad Al Hadrami, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with the American company ‘Eden Geopower’ and the Omani Earth Sciences Consultancy Centre. These MoUs aim to facilitate scientific dialogues to conduct extensive preliminary studies for assessing the potential and opportunities in Geologic Hydrogen exploration. Furthermore, they will identify suitable locations for conducting experimental research in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy and Minerals.
Following the MoU signing, Al Hadrami said “The expansion of the hydrogen sector as a clean energy source holds strategic significance within our energy transition plan, particularly in terms of its economic and environmental aspects.”
He added, “It will play a pivotal role in global energy security. Hence, the role of research and exploration in this sector is of utmost importance to achieve optimal outcomes. Collaboration and coordination with international experts are fundamental elements that contribute to advancing the scientific and technical dimensions and attracting investments. Our goal is to firmly establish the Sultanate of Oman as a leading and trustworthy player on the global stage in this sector.”
He further elaborated that “This workshop and the research agreements in the field of Geologic Hydrogen with the United States of America represent a significant step in bolstering cooperation in this domain, with the aim of optimizing research and exploration opportunities. It has the potential to bolster economic opportunities and strategic partnerships related to Geologic Hydrogen, exploring its utility as a clean natural resource through further research and exploration in this sphere. Notably, the Sultanate of Oman has already ventured into the green hydrogen sector by allocating several sites for investment and establishing partnerships with globally recognized developers in this sector. This collective effort aims to substantially reduce carbon emissions and ensure a stable energy supply on a global scale.”
Regarding the significance of research and exploration in the realm of Geologic Hydrogen, Eng. Muhannad Al Khattab Al Hinai, Director of the Hydrogen Policies and Strategies Department at the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, emphasized that despite being in its nascent stages, the exploration and extraction of hydrogen reservoirs from beneath the Earth’s surface represent a potential opportunity to discover another natural resource for clean energy.
He said that moving forward, it’s crucial to deepen understanding of Geologic Hydrogen, conduct geological surveys to define its locations, and formulate strategies for its exploration and production. Furthermore, active engagement from startups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Geologic Hydrogen sector is encouraged, as they bring the motivation to delve into new fields and technologies, offering unique insights into exploration and production. This collaborative effort can involve established oil and gas companies, which possess extensive experience in geological surveys and energy extraction, as well as human and financial resources. This matter is a contributing factor for accelerating positive steps in this modern and unique area.
The Geologic Hydrogen workshop program will proceed with a team of specialists, researchers, experts, and representatives from companies with an interest in this field embarking on visits to specific sites in the Sultanate of Oman. These sites are known for emitting gases that may include hydrogen, allowing for a closer examination of potential hydrogen gas locations within Oman.
It’s noteworthy that the Sultanate of Oman has embraced ambitious plans to become one of the world’s leading producers of clean hydrogen. Substantial steps have already been taken in this direction, including the issuance of Royal Decree No. 10/2023 in February. This decree allocates land for the development of renewable energy and clean hydrogen projects. In collaboration with the Department of Energy, private sector entities, and research institutions, the United States is actively exploring the potential associated with Geologic Hydrogen production. The U.S. Department of Energy has recently announced that it has allocated funding in an amount of $20 million to support research and experimentation in the exploration and production of Geologic Hydrogen.
Moreover, The workshop was attended by Eng. Mohsen Hamad Al Hadrami, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, and Senior Advisor to the US Department of Energy, Dan Milstein, besides the attendance of Leslie Ordman, the Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the United States of America in the Sultanate of Oman, along with representatives from various entities from the public, private, and academic sectors, as well as investment and research institutions. – ONA
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