M&A Moves

Newly Houston-headquartered ExxonMobil acquires carbon capture company in $4.9B deal

ExxonMobil has placed a big bet on the carbon capture market. Photo via exxonmobil.com

Spring-based energy giant ExxonMobil is making a nearly $5 billion bet on its future in the carbon capture sector.

ExxonMobil announced July 13 that it has agreed to buy Plano-based Denbury, a publicly traded company specializing in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), in an all-stock deal valued at $4.9 billion. The deal’s value is based on ExxonMobil’s July 12 closing stock price — $89.45 per share.

Darren Woods, chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, says the pending acquisition of Denbury “reflects our determination to profitably grow” his company’s low-carbon business unit.

The deal will give ExxonMobil the largest CO2 pipeline network in the U.S. at 1,300 miles, including nearly 925 miles in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, along with 10 onshore carbon sequestration sites.

Dan Ammann, president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions, says Denbury’s CO2 infrastructure “provides significant opportunities to expand and accelerate ExxonMobil’s low-carbon leadership across our Gulf Coast value chains.”

“Once fully developed and optimized,” Ammann adds, “this combination of assets and capabilities has the potential to profitably reduce emissions by more than 100 million metric tons per year in one of the highest-emitting regions of the U.S.”

ExxonMobil explains that CCUS — when carbon dioxide is captured and stored deep underground instead of being released into the atmosphere — is viewed as critical to meeting net-zero goals. The company forecasts the global market for CCUS will catapult to $4 trillion by 2050. Houston-based consulting firm Rystad Energy predicts total spending on CCUS projects in 2023 will reach $7.4 billion.

In addition to Denbury’s CCUS assets, the deal with ExxonMobil includes Gulf Coast and Rocky Mountain oil and natural gas operations. These assets consist of reserves exceeding the equivalent of 200 million barrels of oil, with 47,000 oil-equivalent barrels per day of current production.

Directors at ExxonMobil and Denbury have unanimously approved the deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Denbury, founded in 1951, posted $1.7 billion in revenue last year, up from 36 percent from 2021.

Chris Kendall, president and CEO of Denbury, launched his oil and gas career at Mobil Oil. Mobil merged with Exxon in 1999 to form the country’s largest oil and gas company, which just made official its headquarters relocation from Irving to Spring.

ExxonMobil generated revenue of nearly $413.7 billion in 2022, making it one of the country’s biggest publicly traded companies.

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

A University of Houston team looked into what areas in Houston had the highest impact on emissions and how certain meteorological factors play into ozone formation. Photo via UH.edu

A team of researchers at the University of Houston are using machine learning to help guide pollution fighting strategies.

As reported in the journal Environmental Pollution last month, the team used the SHAP algorithm of machine learning (a game theory approach) and the Positive Matrix Factorization to pinpoint what areas in Houston had the highest impact on emissions and how certain meteorological factors play into ozone formation.

The paper was authored by Delaney Nelson, a doctoral student at the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences of UH, and Yunsoo Choi, corresponding author and professor of atmospheric chemistry, AI deep learning, air quality modeling and satellite remote sensing.

The team's research closely tracked nitrogen-based compound and volatile organic compound measurements from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's monitoring stations in the Houston area. After importing measurements from The Lynchburg Ferry station in Houston's ship channel and the urban Milby Park station, the machine learning and SHAP analysis showed a chemically definitive difference between the two areas.

For example, at the industrial station, the most impactful sources of pollution were from oil and gas flaring/production. At the urban site n_decane and industrial emissions/evaporation had the most impact on ozone.

According to Nelson and Choi, this shows that the machine learning and SHAP analysis approach can be used to tailor more precise air quality management strategies in different areas based on the site's unique characteristics.

“Once we know the specific emission sources and factors, we can develop targeted strategies to reduce emissions, which will in turn reduce ozone in the air and make it healthier for everyone," Choi said in a statement.

“Pollution is a critical issue in Houston, where you have extreme high heat and high concentration of ozone in the summers. The types of insights we got are very useful information for the local community to develop effective policies. That’s why we put our time, effort and technological expertise into this project," he continued.

Next the team envisions applying their approach in different cities and across the country.

“Austin, San Antonio and Dallas all have different characteristics, so I expect (volatile organic compound) sources will also be different,” Choi said. “Identifying VOC sources in different cities is very important because each city should have its own unique pollution fighting strategy.”

This summer, the City of Houston released an updated report on its major strategies to combat climate change and build a more resilient future for its residents.

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