the view from heti

2 Houston energy leaders bet on carbon capture with recent acquisitions

Recently, two HETI members announced acquisition and investment into carbon capture businesses. Photo via htxenergytransition.org

CCUS will play a pivotal role in the global energy transition by decarbonizing carbon-intensive industries, including energy, chemicals, cement, and steel. CCUS is one of the few proven technologies to significantly lower net emissions. However, the unique nature of decarbonization presents many complex challenges. With greater funding and growing policy support, the widespread adoption of CCUS technologies is becoming more technically feasible and economically viable than ever before.

Houston, with its existing CCUS infrastructure, large concentration of CCUS expertise, and high storage capacity, is the ideal location to deploy and derisk CCUS projects at unprecedented speed and scale. Recently, two HETI members announced acquisition and investment into carbon capture businesses.

SLB + Aker Carbon Capture (ACC)

SLB, a pioneer in carbon capture technologies, announced an agreement to acquire major ownership in Aker Carbon Capture (ACC), a pure-play carbon capture company. The move combines SLB’s established CCUS business with ACC’s innovative CCUS technology to support accelerated industrial decarbonization at scale.

“For CCUS to have the expected impact on supporting global net-zero ambitions, it will need to scale up 100-200 times in less than three decades,” said Olivier Le Peuch, chief executive officer, SLB. “Crucial to this scale-up is the ability to lower capture costs, which often represent as much as 50-70% of the total spend of a CCUS project. We are excited to create this business with ACC to accelerate the deployment of carbon capture technologies that will shift the economics of carbon capture across high-emitting industrial sectors.”

Chevron New Energies + ION Clean Energy

Chevron New Energies, a division of Chevron U.S.A. Inc., announced a lead investment in ION Clean Energy (ION), which provides post-combustion point-source capture technology through its third-generation ICE-31 liquid amine system. This investment expands and complements Chevron’s growing portfolio of CCUS technologies.

“ION’s solvent technology, combined with Chevron’s assets and capabilities, has the potential to reach numerous emitters and support our ambitions of a lower carbon future,” said Chris Powers, vice president of CCUS & Emerging, Chevron New Energies. “We believe collaborations like this are essential to our efforts to grow carbon capture on a global scale.”

“This investment from Chevron is a huge testament to the hard work of our team and the potential of our technology,” said ION founder and executive chairman Buz Brown. “We appreciate their collaboration and with their investment we expect to accelerate commercial deployment of our technology so that we can realize the kind of wide-ranging commercial and environmental impact we’ve long envisioned.”

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This article originally ran on the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative blog. HETI exists to support Houston's future as an energy leader. For more information about the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, EnergyCapitalHTX's presenting sponsor, visit htxenergytransition.org.

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A View From HETI

Houston could have ranked higher on a global report of top cities in the world if it had a bit more business diversification. Photo via Getty Images

A new analysis positions the Energy Capital of the World as an economic dynamo, albeit a flawed one.

The recently released Oxford Economics Global Cities Index, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the world’s 1,000 largest cities, puts Houston at No. 25.

Houston ranks well for economics (No. 15) and human capital (No. 18), but ranks poorly for governance (No. 184), environment (No. 271), and quality of life (No. 298).

New York City appears at No. 1 on the index, followed by London; San Jose, California; Tokyo; and Paris. Dallas lands at No. 18 and Austin at No. 39.

In its Global Cities Index report, Oxford Economics says Houston’s status as “an international and vertically integrated hub for the oil and gas sector makes it an economic powerhouse. Most aspects of the industry — downstream, midstream, and upstream — are managed from here, including the major fuel refining and petrochemicals sectors.”

“And although the city has notable aerospace and logistics sectors and has diversified into other areas such as biomedical research and tech, its fortunes remain very much tied to oil and gas,” the report adds. “As such, its economic stability and growth lag other leading cities in the index.”

The report points out that Houston ranks highly in the human capital category thanks to the large number of corporate headquarters in the region. The Houston area is home to the headquarters of 26 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Sysco.

Another contributor to Houston’s human capital ranking, the report says, is the presence of Rice University, the University of Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

“Despite this,” says the report, “it lacks the number of world-leading universities that other cities have, and only performs moderately in terms of the educational attainment of its residents.”

Slower-than-expected population growth and an aging population weaken Houston’s human capital score, the report says.

Meanwhile, Houston’s score for quality is life is hurt by a high level of income inequality, along with a low life expectancy compared with nearly half the 1,000 cities on the list, says the report.

Also in the quality-of-life bucket, the report underscores the region’s variety of arts, cultural, and recreational activities. But that’s offset by urban sprawl, traffic congestion, an underdeveloped public transportation system, decreased air quality, and high carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the report downgrades Houston’s environmental stature due to the risks of hurricanes and flooding.

“Undoubtedly, Houston is a leading business [center] that plays a key role in supporting the U.S. economy,” says the report, “but given its shortcomings in other categories, it will need to follow the path of some of its more well-rounded peers in order to move up in the rankings.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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