Navajo Nation Pilot Project to Convert Methane to Hydrogen for Fuel & More

Bill McCabe, a technology officer with Navajo Nation Oil and Gas, announces a partnership with alternative-energy companies to capture vented methane from its Utah oil field operations and convert it to hydrogen. (Photo courtesy of Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development)

The Navajo Nation is capturing the excess natural gas vented from its oil-producing operations and converting it to hydrogen for multiple applications from alternative fuel to use in refining, agriculture, medical technology and commercial and manufacturing services.

Big Navajo Energy, Navajo Nation Oil and Gas, H2Go and the Governor’s Office of Energy Development, announced the new pilot project at the Utah State Capitol last week. 

“I see the Navajo Nation being a leader in hydrogen production,” said Dory Peters, President and CEO of Big Navajo Energy. 

“The Navajo Nation sees the vision,” Peters added. “Our intent is to be one of the largest hydrogen producers.”

Dr. Laura Nelson, Energy Advisor and Director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development, hailed the strategy as a pathway to advance Tribal sovereignty, while creating an immediate economic and environmental opportunity for the region. 

“It’s a monumental, unique event that we are here to celebrate,” Nelson said. “It is really a story of innovation.”

In addition to creating a renewable fuel for the future, at a significantly higher economic value, the pilot project will manage natural gas emissions from Tohonadla Oil Field. An estimated 80,000 cubic feet per of methane gas is wasted daily. Now it will be transformed into a new fuel source and revenue stream by creating a commodity and jobs. 

The operation, located at a Navajo Nation Oil and Gas extraction site near Bluff in San Juan County — the poorest county in Utah, will initially process 600 kilograms of hydrogen per day. That could increase to 1,000 kilograms, said Bill McCabe, a technology officer with Navajo Nation Oil and Gas. 

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