top stories

ExxonMobil's $20B plan, a $700M SPAC merger, and more trending Houston energy transition news

ExxonMobil's plans for decarbonization — and more trending news from the week. Photo via ExxonMobil.com

Editor's note: It's been a busy news week for energy transition in Houston, and some of this week's headlines resonated with EnergyCapital readers on social media and daily newsletter. Trending news included a SPAC merger, ExxonMobil's plans, and more.

Former Houston energy services CEO's SPAC announces $700M merger with energy transition materials company

A Houston-based SPAC run by the former Weatherford CEO has agreed to merge with a company that's sustainably producing a material required by several energy transition technologies. Photo via Getty Images

Houston-based Pyrophyte Acquisition Corp., a “blank check” SPAC, plans to merge with Canadian quartz silica producer Sio Silica Corp. in a deal valued at more than $700 million.

The companies say the deal carries an enterprise value of $708 million and an equity value of $758 million.

Sio is sitting on a potential supply of 15.2 billion metric tons of high-purity quartz silica, a material needed to produce energy transition technologies such as photovoltaics, solar panels, semiconductors, batteries, and other electronics. Proceeds from the merger will be earmarked for construction of the first phase of Sio’s silica extraction and processing facility near Winnipeg, Manitoba.Continue reading.

ExxonMobil updates corporate plan that aims to lower emissions

ExxonMobil has annouonced how it plans to reduce its carbon footprint. Photo via exxonmobil.com

ExxonMobil has updated its corporate plan through 2027, which will reflect their continued strategy to provide the products that work towards lowering emissions.

ExxonMobil is pursuing more than $20 billion of lower-emissions opportunities through 2027. The $20 billion request represents the third increase in the last three years, and is in addition to the company’s recent $5 billion all-stock acquisition of Denbury. Denbury helped expand carbon capture and storage opportunities through access to the largest CO2 pipeline network in the United States.

The portfolio will include opportunities in lithium, hydrogen, biofuels, and carbon capture and storage. The company is expecting that in aggregate it is expected to generate returns of approximately 15 percent and could potentially reduce third-party emissions by more than 50 million tons per annum (MTA) by 2030, which aligns with the company’s goals to combat climate change. Continue reading.

Houston founder on why geothermal is a 'cornerstone' tech for energy transition

In a Q&A with EnergyCapital, Cindy Taff of Sage Geosystems explains why she's so optimistic about geothermal and her company's technology. Photo courtesy of Sage

Geothermal energy is an integral part of decarbonizing the energy industry, and Sage Geosystems CEO Cindy Taff believes her company's tech has what it takes to lead the way.

Founded in Houston in 2020, Sage Geosystems is focused on two business lines — energy storage and geothermal. In addition to developing these technologies, Taff says Sage has "cracked the code" on both reducing costs and maximizing electricity output. Sage has customers ranging from Nabors, the world’s largest land-based drilling company, and Virya LLC, an investor in climate ventures with high impact of eliminating global greenhouse gas emissions or sequestering CO2

In a Q&A with EnergyCapital, she explains why she's so optimistic about geothermal and her company's technology. Continue reading.

Proposed Texas high-speed Houston-Dallas rail lands $500K in federal funds

Texas high-speed bullet train has some fresh financial fuel. Photo of the N700 courtesy of © JR Central

Amtrak and its partners will receive more than $2.1 billion in a federal program to improve existing routes and expand Amtrak service across the U.S.

That includes $500,000 from the Federal Railroad Administration awarded to the long-in-the-works high-speed rail project between Houston and Dallas, as well as another $500,000 awarded to the I-20 Corridor Long-Distance Passenger Rail Project.

The funding is via the newly-passed Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act and includes multiple grants that will go to Amtrak and partners. Continue reading.

Halliburton names 7 energy startups to latest incubator cohort

Halliburton has named its latest cohort. Photo courtesy of Halliburton

Seven companies from around the world have been invited to join Halliburton Labs, the company announced today.

Halliburton Labs is an incubator program that helps early-stage energy tech companies through connections, access to facilities, and more.

"We are pleased to welcome these promising energy startups and provide customized support to help them achieve their specific priorities, accelerate commercialization, and increase valuation," says Dale Winger, managing director of the program, in a news release. "Our experienced practitioners and network will help these companies use their time and capital efficiently." Continue reading.

Trending News

A View From HETI

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want. Photo courtesy of Boxes

With the help of a new conversational artificial intelligence platform, a Houston startup is ready to let brands get up close and personal with consumers while minimizing waste.

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want.

The Boxes device, about the size of a 40-inch television screen, dispenses products to consumers in a modern and sustainable spin on the old-fashioned large vending machine.

CEO Fernando Machin Gojdycz learned that business from his entrepreneur father, Carlos Daniel Machin, while growing up in Uruguay.

“That’s where my passion comes from — him,” Gojdycz says of his father. In 2016, Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay with some engineer friends

Funded by a $2,000 grant from the University of Uruguay, the company's mission was “to democratize and economize affordable and sustainable shopping,” in part by eliminating wasteful single-use plastic packaging.

“I worked for one year from my bedroom,” he tells InnovationMap.

Fernando Machin Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay before relocating the company to Greentown Houston. Photo courtesy of Boxes

The device, attached to a wall, offers free samples, or purchased products, in areas of high foot traffic, with a touch-screen interface. Powered by watsonx Assistant, the device asks survey questions of the customer, who can answer or not, on their mobile devices, via a QR code.

In return for completing a survey, customers can get a digital coupon, potentially generating future sales. The software and AI tech tracks sales and consumer preferences, giving valuable real-time market insight.

“This is very powerful,” he says.

Boxes partnered in Uruguay with major consumer brands like Kimberly-Clark, SC Johnson and Unilever, and during COVID, pivoted and offered PPE products. Then, with plans of an expansion into the United States, Boxes in 2021 landed its first U.S. backer, with $120,000 in funding from startup accelerator Techstars.

This led to a partnership with the Minnesota Twins, where Boxes devices at Target Field dispensed brand merchandise like keychains and bottles of field dirt.

Gojdycz says while a company in the Northeast is developing a product similar in size, Boxes is not “targeting traditional spaces.” Its software and integration with AI allows Boxes to seamlessly change the device screen and interface, remotely, as well.

Boxes aims to provide the devices in smaller spaces, like restrooms, where they have a device at the company's headquarters at climate tech incubator Greentown Labs. Boxes also recently added a device at Hewlett Packard Enterprise headquarters in Spring, as part of HPE’s diversity startup program.

Boxes hopes to launch another sustainable innovation later this year, in universities and supermarkets. The company is also developing a device that would offer refillable detergent and personal cleaning products like shampoo and conditioner with a reusable container.

Since plastic packaging accounts for 40 percent of retail price, consumers would pay far less, making a huge difference, particularly for lower-income families, he says.

“We are working to make things happen, because we have tried to pitch this idea,” he says.

Some supermarket retailers worry they may lose money or market share, and that shoppers may forget to bring the refill bottles with them to the store, for example.

“It’s about..the U.S. customer,” he says, “….but we think that sooner or later, it will come.”

Boxes has gotten funding from the accelerator startup branch of Houston-based software company Softeq, as well as Mission Driven Finance, Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund, and Right Side Capital, among others.

“Our primary challenges are scaling effectively with a small, yet compact team and maintaining control over our financial runway,” Gojdycz says.

The company has seven employees, including two on its management team.

Gojdycz says they are actively hiring, particularly in software and hardware engineering, but also in business development.

---

This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Trending News