Interview by CCW’s Lucija Kozina
Ms. El-Khorassani, can you please tell us more about Saipem’s sustainability mission? How do you address energy transition?
Saipem’s sustainability mission is embedded in our 2023-26 Sustainability Plan, which aligns with the UN 2030 Agenda, the UN Global Compact’s 10 principles and the results of external context drivers (in particular double materiality analysis), and anchors our commitment to driving the energy transition. This four-year plan integrates economic, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals to create both short and long-term value for stakeholders. It emphasizes a shift towards sustainability as a strategic priority, addressing 10 key ESG areas: Path to Net Zero, Biodiversity and pollution prevention, Carbon Neutral project, Sustainable employment, Diversity and Inclusion, Health and Safety, Local Impact, Fair and responsible supply chain, Business Ethics, and Innovation, digital, and cybersecurity. These goals are regularly monitored and updated based on achievements and evolving business scenarios, reflecting Saipem’s commitment to becoming an enabler of the energy transition which is a fundamental element of sustainable development.
The practical application of Saipem’s strategy in our operations to prevent climate change and protect the environment can be found in our Saipem Net Zero Programme. The programme is structured around two key pillars. Firstly, it focuses on improving the efficiency of our assets, operations, and supply chain to reduce emissions across Scope 1, 2, and 3.
Secondly, we support our customers in their decarbonization efforts, playing a crucial role in the broader energy transition, thanks to our people skills and competences.
Which sectors is Saipem focused on?
We are also strongly focused on finding solutions to decarbonize the so-called ’hard-to-abate’ industrial sectors, and just a few weeks ago we launched an innovative and sustainable solution for CO2 capture, BluenzymeTM200, which strengthens and complements our offering in the full value chain of CO2 management.
Moreover, we are present in the hydrogen value chain: we have built more than 90 plants that include the production of ammonia, hydrogen, urea and methanol.
When it comes to submarine robotics, where we play a leading role in the development of subsea drones for maintenance and control activities, we are also contributing to the reduction of the carbon footprint of these activities for the oil and gas sector.
It is mentioned on your website that you are working on decarbonizing the supply chain. Is this connected to your brand “Engineering for a sustainable future”?
One of the biggest challenges in reducing a company’s carbon footprint is related to indirect emissions, the so-called scope 3 emissions, whose largest share comes from the supply chain. One of the critical aspects of Saipem’s strategy is our role as a facilitator in supporting our clients and suppliers’ decarbonization efforts. We collaborate with all our stakeholders to promote strategies and technologies with low greenhouse gas emissions impact. This approach acknowledges the interconnectedness of the industry and the importance of collective action.
In over 65 years of services and operations, we have developed a strong and reliable vendor management system, which shares our values and policies, including the protection of people and the environment, and reflects our mission “Engineering for a sustainable future”. We are always committed to integrating ESG aspects into our supply chain in an increasingly advanced manner through adhoc initiatives, such as: Carbon Tracker, an initiative linked to Saipem’s Net Zero Program with the ambition to manage our scope 3 emissions related to the purchase of goods and services, and Openes, an initiative aimed at evolving Vendor Management processes on sustainability aspects related to all ESG dimensions.
Please tell us more about your ACCSESS Innovation Project.
The ACCSESS Innovation Project is a significant endeavour in the realm of carbon capture and utilization or storage (CCUS), and it features Saipem’s groundbreaking CO2 Solutions technology. This project is a four-year project funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 program and was initiated in May 2021. It aims to demonstrate technologies and produce tools and plans to consolidate carbon dioxide capture and utilization or storage technologies. Coordinated by the esteemed Norwegian research institute SINTEF Energy Research, ACCSESS has a paramount goal: to pave the way for a climateneutral Europe by 2050. To achieve this, the project is focused on the development of safe, flexible, replicable, and cost-effective CCUS pathways.
What is BluenzymeTM? Is it perhaps being used in the steel industry seeing as it is one of the most energyconsuming industries in the world?
BluenzymeTM is one of Saipem’s solutions to carbon capture challenges, a groundbreaking industrialized and modularized carbon capture unit developed by our teams. It stands out for its sustainable approach, versatility, and efficiency when compared to traditional carbon capture projects.
BluenzymeTM relies on the use of our proprietary technology for post-combustion carbon capture, CO2 Solutions by SaipemTM, based on natural enzymes, specifically carbonic anhydrase (CA), which is naturally found in living organisms and plays a crucial role in CO2 exchange for breathing. Saipem has harnessed the industrial potential of this enzyme to catalyze the carbon capture process effectively. The use of natural enzymes as a catalyst eliminates the necessity for hazardous chemicals and thus reduces the environmental impact associated with carbon capture operations.
Moreover, leveraging on our experience as a tier-1 EPC contractor, we developed BluenzymeTM to meet our clients’ expectations for a smooth and de-risked execution. In fact, we employ a modular and safe construction approach that minimizes the risks of accidents during installation, reduces construction timelines, and mitigates expenses.
BluenzymeTM’s versatility allows it to be applied across various industrial sectors, including “hard-to-abate” industries like the cement and steel industries. Both are part of most energy-consuming industries globally and they could benefit significantly from the reduced carbon emissions offered by this innovative carbon capture solution.
“Saipem is with you at every stage of your CCUS journey.” What can clients expect from Saipem with regard to CCUS?
We have extensive expertise throughout every stage of CCUS practices. Hence, we are able to offer a comprehensive array of services and solutions aimed at advancing decarbonization in challenging industries and aiding energy-intensive companies in their pursuit of low-carbon and sustainable objectives. From the initial stages of research and development (R&D) to technology selection, project execution, and beyond, Saipem covers the entire CO2 value chain, ensuring an integrated approach to CCUS with end-to-end management to the industry.
In a recent development, we have signed a Letter of Intent with Stockholm Exergi for a substantial CO2 capture plant at their biocogeneration facility. Saipem will manage the engineering, procurement, and construction, including CO2 storage and transportation systems. This plant, capable of capturing 800,000 tonnes of biogenic CO2 annually, plays a pivotal role in achieving “negative emissions” by removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Supported by the European Innovation Fund, this project aims to issue Carbon Removal Certificates for trading, marking it as one of Europe’s pioneering large-scale carbon capture and storage initiatives.
You boast a track record of successful CO2 pipeline projects worldwide. Can you perhaps elaborate on your previous projects?
We have a long history of successfully executed projects, which showcases our dedication to applying our expertise to develop sustainable solutions and innovation in the CCUS sector. Our accomplishments in this field include designing and establishing more than 70 CO2 removal plants. We have installed more than 130.000 km of pipelines worldwide, and with our pipeline engineering and construction proficiency we can ensure the secure transport of CO2 from various industrial sources to injection sites, contributing significantly to the safe reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. We are at the forefront of CO2 pipeline projects, utilizing technologies and industry best practices to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of CO2 in both gaseous and dense phases.
You have designed special LCO2 ships. Can you please comment on your experience with CO2 shipping?
Our dedication to a sustainable future extends to CO2 shipping and terminal solutions through our Norwegian subsidiary, Moss Maritime. We have designed state-of-the-art Liquid CO2 (LCO2 ) ships and offer efficient liquefaction and regasification processes in maritime terminals. These solutions contribute to the smooth handling and transportation of CO2 in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.
In the global quest for a Net Zero Emissions world by 2050, CO2 shipping can’t be overlooked as it represents the backbone of our efforts to deploy carbon capture technologies. In fact, capturing CO2 is only one piece of the puzzle. Knowing how to effectively handle its transport, re-use or storage is the true enabler for these types of projects.
The gap between the rising demand for CO2 transport and the pace of shipping facility development is growing. Saipem is fully committed to developing new technological solutions to avoid this bottleneck that could hamper the widespread deployment of CCUS.
Saipem utilizes/reuses captured carbon. What can you tell us about Saipem creating value from CO2?
Our commitment to creating value from CO2 extends beyond just capturing it. CO2 is seen as a resource to be reused rather than a waste product to be discarded. We create value from captured CO2 by harnessing its potential in innovative and sustainable ways through its SnamprogettiTM urea technology. Saipem has developed and built plants that utilize CO2 as a feedstock, demonstrating a strong focus on carbon utilization.
We have a strong track record in large-scale urea production, a widely used fertiliser made up of ammonia and CO2 . We licensed and built numerous urea plants, such as the Qafco V and VI plants in Qatar, showcasing our capabilities in converting CO2 into valuable products on a significant scale. Globally, over 140 have been licensed offering a range of capacities to suit clients’ unique requirements, making it a sustainability success story.
Saipem’s groundbreaking innovation in urea production, SUPERCUPS, has improved industry standards, boosting plant efficiency, and capacity while cutting down environmental impact. These solutions have been successfully deployed in 20 plants, including retrofit brownfield and Greenfield projects, resulting in a CO2 emissions reduction equivalent to removing 15,000 cars from the road yearly.
Moreover, we are also working on Power-To-X projects, where CO2 is combined with green hydrogen to produce e-Fuels, which will support the decarbonization of the transportation sector.