Ørsted explores synthetic natural gas production in the US

The power utility has signed an MoU with a US gas company regarding PtX research, also exploring a big methanation project.

Photo: Ørsted

It might be that Ørsted has turned away from fossil energy. That, however, doesn't necessary mean the Danish utility shuns businesses still active in the industry.

At least when it comes to collaboration on hydrogen, with Ørsted now following up on Monday's announcement of having signed a Memorandum of Understanding with German power company Uniper to establish a Power-to-X partnership in Europe.

This time involves the US, where a potential partner has been found in the form of Oklahoma-based energy group Williams, which specializes in extraction and, in particular, transportation of natural gas.

These two parties have signed an MoU to explore possible development projects in the US, where Ørsted will contribute with its expertise in renewable energy and hydrogen, while the US company will offer its experience working with fossil gas. The hope is to establish a facility for making H2 or synthetic natural gas by means of renewable power.

"We’re excited to partner with Williams to deliver clean fuels in the US and transform our Onshore business into a potential growth platform for renewable hydrogen," writes Vishal Kapadia, senior vice president and chief commercial officer of Ørsted Onshore, in a statement.

Despite merely being an MoU right now, a concrete project is on the table. The two are exploring possibilities for methanation via combining wind power, electrolysis and synthetic gas in Western Wyoming, where the US company owns both land and gas infrastructure.

To be fair, Williams offers more than just that. This early-stage agreement with Ørsted is no spontaneous idea for the US company, which has been working on pilot project Williams Southwest Wyoming Hydrogen Hub for some time. In June, the group received around USD 1m from Wyoming to conduct a preliminary assessment of the project.

"Natural gas and our large-scale energy infrastructure network are ideal partners for facilitating the integration of renewables into the energy mix, while helping our customers move toward a low-carbon future," says Chad Zamarin, senior vice president for Corporate Strategic Development at Williams.

"It’s through technology innovation and collaboration with forward-thinking companies such as Ørsted that we can leverage our assets and expertise to develop solutions to advance the clean energy economy."

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