NORTH Sea oil firms are supporting plans to develop a pioneering hydrogen production plant in Orkney.

TotalEnergies and Repsol Sinopec are backing a proposal to transform the Flotta oil terminal in Orkney into a green hydrogen production hub,which would be powered by renewable energy from a windfarm off the islands.

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Supporters believe the plant could be one of the first of its kind in the world, with production of fuel targeted to start in 2029 or 2029. Green hydrogen can be produced from sea water through electrolysis in plants powered by renewable energy.

The plans are supported by a consortium that submitted an application in the ScotWind round for acreage West of Orkney, on which it plans to build a windfarm. Consortium members include TotalEnergies and Green Investment Group, which is owned by Australian investment group.

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The consortium is working on the hub project in partnership with Repsol Sinopec, which owns the Flotta terminal, and with hydrogen specialist Uniper.

Julien Pouget Senior Vice President Renewables, TotalEnergies said: “ With our proposed West of Orkney windfarm, there is an opportunity to create one of the world’s first green hydrogen plants in Orkney.”

José Luis Muñoz, chief executive Officer of Repsol Sinopec, said the project would enable the Flotta terminal to be transformed into a diversified energy hub where conventional oil and gas operations continue alongside the development of a sustainable long-term green future for the facility.

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James Stockan, Leader of Orkney Islands Council, said Flotta is an ideal location for green hydrogen production, as it is surrounded by the best wind resource in Europe and lies close to major shipping routes within the vast natural harbour of Scapa Flow.

The firms working on the hydrogen plant proposal hope to be able to secure the funding and approvals required in time to be able to make a final investment decision in 2025 on whether to go ahead with the development. 

The ScotWind licensing round attracted strong interest from big players in the oil and gas production and energy generation businesses and from financiers.