Less crude, more hydrogen: Oil giants plan for the future

Indian Oil Corp., one of the biggest refiners in Asia, is taking the bus to reach what it considers the future of energy: hydrogen.

The company that sells almost half the oil products in India will deploy 50 buses around the capital powered by a blend of hydrogen and compressed natural gas, Chairman Shrikant Madhav Vaidya said. The fleet will serve the public and could start rolling as soon as this year, potentially creating a new market for a producer trying to rebound from its first annual loss in at least 20 years.

Hydrogen, long touted as the fuel of the future, had a bit of a coming-out party at this week’s S&P Global Platts Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference, as some of the world’s biggest refiners, drillers and traders extolled it as key to fighting climate change. The efforts are emblematic of an oil industry trying to reposition itself after the pandemic wiped out demand and as shareholders call for reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

“Hydrogen seems to be the most disruptive and has the potential to grow 10 times between now and 2050,” said Giovanni Serio, global head of research at Vitol Group, the world’s biggest independent oil trader. “It could be the one to solve the problem of storing energy and also addressing later the demand from the transportation sector.”

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