Liberty Steel targets Australian hydrogen, CCS deals

  • Market: Hydrogen, Metals, Natural gas
  • 26/02/24

UK-owned producer Liberty Steel has signed separate agreements with the South Australia (SA) state government and domestic independent Santos to respectively explore the use of hydrogen and discuss carbon capture and storage (CCS) opportunities for its Whyalla steel plant in SA.

Liberty could become the first domestic third-party customer for the Santos-operated 1.7mn t/yr Moomba CCS project in SA's onshore Cooper basin, which is on track to start injection in mid-2024. Santos has secured finance for its $150mn share of the $220mn project, it said on 26 February, following an initial deal signed with Liberty over the weekend.

Santos and Liberty will now enter discussions for a potential term natural gas supply deal that could include abated gas from Moomba. This could help reducing residual emissions from the Whyalla steelworks during a transition period, before the plant fully moves to green hydrogen once that is available at scale, Liberty's owner GFG Alliance said on 25 February.

Liberty's separate agreement with the SA government, also signed on 25 February, is for potential supplies from the government's planned 250MW green hydrogen facility near Whyalla in the Spencer Gulf region. The SA government last October chose a consortium comprising Canadian-owned infrastructure group Atco and German firm Linde's subsidiary BOC as preferred contractors for the plant, which is expected to come on line by the end of 2025.

"Today's agreement gives us and our stakeholders confidence to ramp up our efforts and commitment to the production of our 4bn t of high-quality magnetite, the establishment of a state-of-the-art green iron and green steel plant which will ultimately be powered by renewable energy and green hydrogen," GFG Alliance chairman Sanjeev Gupta said.

Liberty plans to build an electric arc furnace (EAF) at Whyalla, which will replace the existing coke ovens and blast furnace and lift steel production capacity to more than 1.5mn t/yr from 1mn t/yr. The company has received a A$63.2mn ($41.4mn) grant from the Australian federal government to support the purchase and installation of the EAF. It also has A$50mn committed by the SA government for use towards the EAF, pending approval.

GFG Alliance also plans to produce 7.5mn t/yr of iron pellet from locally-sourced magnetite from 2030 in a direct reduced iron plant, which would initially use a mix of natural gas and green hydrogen as the reducing agent before fully transitioning to the latter.

Santos is also targeting to offer CCS services from Moomba to reduce emissions from other hard-to-abate industries such as aluminium and cement, as well as from fuels like LNG, it said. Santos owns 66.7pc of Moomba with the balance controlled by Australian independent Beach Energy, which anticipates 30pc of its equity greenhouse gas emissions will be offset by the storage.


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