UPDATE 2-From fertiliser to fuel, Norwegians join forces to produce green ammonia

(Adds comments from Statkraft, Yara, Aker ASA CEOs)

OSLO, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Norway’s Statkraft and Aker Horizons, a unit of investment firm Aker, have joined chemicals firm Yara in electrifying and decarbonising a plant in Norway to produce zero carbon ammonia, the companies said on Thursday.

Yara, one of the world’s largest producers of nitrogen fertilisers, aims to eliminate CO2 emissions from the 500,000-tonnes-a-year plant in Porsgrunn in southern Norway.

“Provided that power is available at the site and the required public co-funding is in place, the project could be realised within 5-7 years,” Yara said in a statement.

The three companies would own the plant together, Aker CEO Oeysten Eriksen told a news conference.

The partners will also jointly explore the potential for green ammonia production at a site in northern Norway.

In partnership with renewable energy provider Statkraft and Aker Horizons, Yara will produce ammonia using renewable electricity rather than fossil fuel energy.

Yara is banking on ammonia produced without fossil fuel becoming a preferred zero-carbon shipping fuel, as well as on opportunities in existing fertilisers and industrial applications.

Norway already has an oversupply of power and access to electricity would not be the bottleneck for the project, Statkraft CEO Christian Rynning-Toennesen said.

“In this project... the most important thing is to get the market in place, to get these products priced in a way so that they are competitive with traditional shipping fuel,” he added.

Converting the Porsgrunn site would be faster and more cost-effective than building a new plant, Yara’s Chief Executive Svein Tore Holsether said.

“However, realising this innovative project will require good incentive frameworks and support from the authorities,” he added.

It is still too early to estimate the cost of the project, Holsether said. (Additional reporting by Nora Buli; editing by Gwladys Fouche and Barbara Lewis)