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B&V to study extraction of natural hydrogen and helium in Australia

Global engineering and critical infrastructure solutions provider, Black and Veatch (B&V) has announced that it will undertake a study on the exploration and extraction of natural hydrogen and helium for H2EX Ltd, an Australian-owned natural hydrogen company.

Natural hydrogen also known as gold or white hydrogen is referred to as hydrogen found in its natural form as a free gas. The study is part of an Australian Federal Government-funded project led by H2EX.

"This important development study will help H2EX fast-track our first exploration wells and development scheme. If successful, hydrogen will be a great source of energy for power generation and transport on the Eyre Peninsula," said Mark Hanna, CEO & MD at H2EX.

"Natural hydrogen will help decarbonize the region, which predominantly uses liquid fuels for energy and transport. Helium is also a high-value and scarce commodity. Recent drilling in South Australia has found high concentrations of helium, too," Hanna added.

As part of the engineering service agreement between B&V and H2EX, B&V will provide two concept designs on H2EX's exploration license PEL 691 on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.

The first concept design will be for the drilling and completion of an exploration well. The second will be for surface facilities to purify, process, and deliver natural hydrogen and helium, including co-production of the resources, if they are found together.

A map of South Australia's Hydrogen Projects. Source: Govt. of South Australia.

Further, B&V has stated it will analyze gas industry practices related to conventional well drilling and extraction infrastructure and identify key considerations to adapt these practices for natural hydrogen and helium.The research into extraction solutions will provide a pathway to drill and extract the lowest-cost hydrogen, which could be up to 75 percent more cost-effective than manufacturing hydrogen

"Decarbonization efforts in the Asia Pacific are a priority for Black & Veatch. This includes extracting natural hydrogen, a potential clean energy source for the region," said Yatin Premchand, MD of Strategic Growth, Global Advisory at Black & Veatch.

The broader objective of the study is to assess the first-mover advantage for Australia within an emerging sector globally as well as create substantial local and export opportunities while retaining the country's competitive advantage and technical and engineering expertise.

The study is expected to be completed by mid-2024. 

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