Pipeline operator Enbridge signs deals to produce RNG, hydrogen

Sept 28 (Reuters) - Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO) said on Tuesday it had signed partnerships with Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and Vanguard Renewables to make low-carbon fuels, seeking to tap into sales to companies that want to lower their greenhouse gas emissions.

Enbridge will buy 2 billion cubic feet (bcf) of renewable natural gas (RNG) annually from Vanguard and collaborate with Shell on potential green and blue hydrogen production.

Companies that buy RNG from Enbridge would collect the offsets associated with decarbonization, spokesman Jesse Semko said.

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Enbridge, which set emission-reduction targets last November, hopes to be a net-zero emitter by 2050.

The company said it would buy RNG from eight anaerobic digesters that Vanguard will spend $200 million to build and operate in the U.S. Northeast, Southeast and Midwest.

RNG is produced when gas is captured from food waste, manure or landfills and turned into fuel for transportation or heating.

Enbridge can replicate the project across the United States, and could double the RNG it sells within several years, said Caitlin Tessin, Enbridge's director of market innovation.

If natural gas prices, which are soaring, remain elevated, it could further boost demand for RNG, which normally trades at a premium, Tessin said in an interview.

Enbridge will spend $100 million on equipment to convert gas from food waste and farm manure into pipeline-quality renewable natural gas and market it to U.S. customers.

Coffee chain Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) and Unilever Plc (ULVR.L), maker of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, are providing food waste to Vanguard for processing into RNG.

Enbridge signed an agreement with Shell to explore opportunities to produce hydrogen.

The companies are also looking at developing a carbon-capture and storage hub in southern Ontario where there are lots of industrial emissions and potential storage, Matthew Akman, Enbridge's senior vice president of strategy, renewables and new energies, told an Enbridge forum on Tuesday.

"That's the kind of thing where we can together really move the dial and get things going. ... We're very excited about that," Akman said, without going into further details.

The Canadian government is pushing to provide incentives for at least two massive new carbon-capture and storage hubs by 2030 as part of its plan to cut emissions. read more

(This story corrects headline and first paragraph to make clear the sales of renewable natural gas do not count toward Enbridge’s emissions reduction goals; Adds third paragraph that clarifies RNG buyers collect offset benefits)

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Reporting by Arunima Kumar and Rod Nickel; Additional reporting by Nia Williams in Calgary; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Steve Orlofsky and Peter Cooney

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Covers energy, agriculture and politics in Western Canada with the energy transition a key area of focus. Has done short reporting stints in Afghanistan, Pakistan, France and Brazil and covered Hurricane Michael in Florida, Tropical Storm Nate in New Orleans and the 2016 Alberta wildfires and the campaign trails of political leaders during two Canadian election campaigns.