Port of Corpus Christi converting refinery to carbon-neutral production facility

The Port of Corpus Christi and Howard Energy Partners are teaming to convert a natural gas refinery along the Gulf of Mexico into a carbon-neutral hydrogen production facility.

The port and Howard Energy recently announced a memorandum of understanding under which Howard said it will capture its carbon emissions at its Javelina refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, according to a release

Howard Energy’s Javelina facility has pipeline connectivity to six other area refineries. If successful, the partnership would create the Texas Gulf Coast region’s first carbon-neutral hydrogen production facility.

“The mandate in the latest [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report is clear, and while the energy sector certainly can’t shoulder this responsibility on its own, we must lead by example,” Sean Strawbridge, CEO of the Port of Corpus Christi, said in a statement. “Our future starts with building a scalable carbon capture and storage solution to serve the needs of our existing customers and convert more Texas gas into carbon neutral hydrogen for the global markets.”

Strawbridge was referring to the United Nations’ IPCC report released earlier this month, which calls for the elimination of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The report also calls for the development of facilities to capture and permanently store carbon.

The Port of Corpus Christi is part of the larger Houston-Galveston Customs District, which includes the area stretching along the Gulf Coast from Corpus Christi to Galveston, and inland from Freeport north to Houston Intercontinental Airport.

San Antonio-based Howard Energy Partners operates natural gas and oil transportation pipelines and plants, storage terminals, deep-water dock and terminal facilities, and transloading facilities in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Monterrey, Mexico. 

According to the agreement, the port and Howard Energy will capture carbon emissions at Javelina to avoid atmospheric release, which contributes to global warming. Officials will collaborate to identify uses for the residual CO2, as well as capture and storage options. 

The Javelina facility controls approximately 60 million cubic feet per day of hydrogen production. Hydrogen collected at the facility is currently sold back to other refineries and other industries.

The Port of Corpus Christi and Howard Energy hope to eventually scale hydrogen production for export to overseas markets. No time frame or cost was given for the conversion project.

The port “is uniquely suited to become the nation’s premier carbon capture and management hub based on the high density of industrial CO2 emitters, a robust network of existing pipeline infrastructure, and [the port’s] ownership of lands leading to state waters in the Gulf of Mexico,” according to a release

More than $300 billion in hydrogen projects are in the pipeline through 2030, according to a January 2021 report from the Hydrogen Council, a global initiative of more than 100 energy, transport, industrial and investment companies with a goal of developing the hydrogen economy.

Revenue from the global hydrogen production market is forecast to increase from $177 billion in 2020 to about $420 billion by 2030, according to research and consulting firm Frost and Sullivan.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Noi Mahoney.

More articles by Noi Mahoney

Chip shortage sinks Mexican auto exports in July

Rivian considers Texas, Arizona for $5B auto plant

US settles labor dispute with Mexican auto parts factory