Germany's SEFE Studying Hydrogen Production, WIGA Stake Hike

(Reuters) — Nationalized German gas importer and trader SEFE on Tuesday said it was interested in clean hydrogen production under its remit to help spearhead the green energy transition.

"We will look closely at entering hydrogen production," said CEO Egbert Laege in response to questions at the Handelsblatt Gas 2023 conference.

Separately, SEFE was looking into possibly raising its 50% stake in the Gascade pipelines operated by WIGA, a 50/50 joint holding company between Wintershall Dea and SEFE.

Since a global market mechanism for green hydrogen - derived from renewable power in electrolyzers to make clean gases and replace fossil fuels - does not yet exist, SEFE might emulate earlier alliances between traders and producers which spurred the emergence of LNG.

"It will be the right way for us to seek ties to cooperate with producers and take shares in (hydrogen) projects," he said.

Laege also cited privatization reasons for the interest in hydrogen.

Overseen by the Economy Ministry, SEFE must eventually free itself of state participations under EU rules tied to the trusteeship arranged last year to bail out the company after Russian gas receipts dried up and its market positions faltered.

"When the state pulls out we will need a more solid asset base, which is another reason for looking at investments, and those would be made in future energy technologies...where hydrogen is the leading one," Laege said.

In that same vein, SEFE welcomes plans by Gascade, a subsidiary of WIGA, for green hydrogen pipelines, which made it interesting to consider a bigger engagement, he said.

"But having received state money, we would not be allowed to play out an unfair advantage there," he said.

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