In a series of fireside chats, Houston energy leaders took the stage at OTC to discuss what their companies are doing in the energy transition space. Photo via LinkedIn

In addition to the massive exhibit floor, networking, and panels, the 2024 Offshore Technology Conference hosts thoughtful fireside chats with energy leaders throughout the ongoing conference taking place in Houston this week.

Four energy leaders from Houston took the stage to discuss what their companies are doing within the energy transition. Take a look at what topics each of the conversations tackled.

Chris Powers, vice president of CCUS at Chevron New Energies, on energy evolution and collaboration

Chris Powers introduced Chevron New Energies, an organization within Chevron that launched in 2021, to the crowd at OTC, describing the entity's focus points as CCUS, hydrogen, offsets and emerging technology, and renewable fuels — specifically things Chevron believes it has the competitive advantage.

One of the things Powers made clear in his fireside chat is that it's not going to be one, two, or even three technologies to significantly move the energy transition along, "it's going to take all the solutions to meet all the growing energy needs," he said.

And, he continued, this current energy transition the world is in isn't exactly new.

"We've been evolving our energy supply since the dawn of man," he said. "Our view is that the world has always been in an energy evolution."

"Hydrocarbons will continue to play a huge role in the years to come, and anyone who has a different view on that I think isn't being pragmatic," he continued.

Chevron has played a role in the clean energy market for decades, Powers said, pointing out Chevron Technology Ventures, which launched in the 1990s.

"No one can do this alone," he said, pointing specifically to the ongoing Bayou Bend joint venture that Chevron is working on with Equinor and TotalEnergies. "We have to bring together the right partners and the right skill sets."

Celine Gerson, group director, Americas, and president at Fugro USA, on the importance of data

Celine Gerson set the scene for Fugro, a geo data and surveying company that diversified its business beginning in 2015 to account for the energy transition. From traditional oil and gas to renewables, "it starts with the geo data," she said during her chat. She said big projects can't map out their construction without it, and then, when it comes to maintaining the equipment, the geo data is equally important.

Another message Gerson wanted to convey is that the skill sets from traditional offshore services translate to renewables. Fugro's employee base has evolved significantly over the past few years, and Gerson said that 50 percent of the workforce was hired over the past five years and 85 percent of the leadership has changed in the past seven.

Agility is what the industry needs, Celine Gerson said, adding that the "industry need to move fast and, in order to move fast, we need to look at things differently.

Attilio Pisoni, CTO of oilfield services and equipment at Baker Hughes, on the future workforce

In addition to the world making changes toward sustainability, the energy industry is seeing a workforce evolution as well, Attilio Pisoni said during his fireside chat, adding that inspiring a workforce is key to retention and encouraging innovation.

"We have a challenge in attracting young people," Pisoni said. "To be successful, you have to have a purpose."

That purpose? Combating climate change. And that, Pisoni said, needs to be able to be quantified. "As a society over all, we need to have a standard of measurement and accuracy in reporting," he said.

To future engineers, Pisoni emphasized the importance of learning outside your specific niche.

"Having seen where the world is now, whatever you study, have a concept and understanding of the system as a whole," he said.

Erik Oswald, vice president of advocacy and policy development at ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions, on transferable skills from upstream

When he looks at renewables and new energy, Erik Oswald said he sees a significant similarity for the talent and skill sets required in upstream oil and gas.

"A lot of the same skills are coming into focus" within the energy transition," Oswald said, specifying CCS and upstream.

Even in light of the transferrable workforce, the industry faces needs to grow its workforce in a significant way to keep up with demand — and keeping in mind the younger generations coming onto the scene.

"We're talking about recreating the entire oil and gas industry," Oswald said on preparing the workforce for the future of the energy industry. "We have to do it, it's not an option."

In partnership with Venture Metals +, Baker Hughes has saved over 125 million pounds of scrap metals from more than 50 of the company's locations around the world. Photo via bakerhughes.com

Houston energy company diverts over 125M pounds of scrap metals from landfills

reduce, reuse, recycle

For three years, Baker Hughes has been working with a full-scale scrap processor partner to divert scrap metal waste from landfills as a part of the company's net-zero commitment by 2050.

In partnership with Venture Metals +, Baker Hughes has saved over 125 million pounds of scrap metals from more than 50 of the company's locations around the world.

Venture Metals + collects, recycles, and manages the full recycling process of scrap materials, providing recycling, reclamation, and investment recovery as a service to industrial, manufacturing, and service facilities.

“The relationship that has been formed between Baker Hughes and Venture Metals is the definition of a true partnership. Over the many years we have collaborated on significant projects and there has been a foundation of trust, transparency and investment on both sides,” Venture Metals’ Vice-Chairman of the Board Mark Chazanow says in a news release. “Together, we have been able to do our part to improve the environment by circular and sustainable recycling while also capturing substantial revenue gain. We look forward to growing the partnership and seeing a bright future ahead together.”

According to the release, Baker Hughes plans to grow the partnership to introduce similar programs at five key locations around the world. Venture Metals+ also set up Baker Hughes with customized containers to help separate titanium, stainless steel, Inconel, and other recyclable metals.

“Reducing our environmental footprint is a critical focus area for our sustainability strategy as we continue to reduce waste, minimize the resources we use and promote circularity,” Allyson Anderson Book, chief sustainability officer at Baker Hughes, adds. “Through partners like Venture Metals +, we are minimizing waste and reusing scrap materials as much as possible for more sustainable operations.”

Chevron — as well as nine other Houston energy companies — was named a top company by Newsweek. Photo via chevron.com

10 Houston energy companies recognized as best workplaces on annual list

best of class

Newsweek recently recognized the country's top workplaces, and 10 Houston energy businesses made the cut.

The annual America's Greatest Workplaces 2023 list, which originally published in the fall, gave 10 Houston energy companies four stars or above.

ConocoPhillips is the only Houston-based energy company to receive five out of five stars. Baker Hughes, Exxon, S&B Engineers and Constructors, and KBR all received four-and-a-half stars. Chevron Corp., Halliburton, J-W Power Co., Q'MAX Solutions, and Valerus secured four stars each.

"Our commitment to engaging the full potential of our people to deliver the future of energy is at the core of everything we do," Rhonda Morris, vice president and chief human resources officer at Chevron, says in a news release. "We do this because our business succeeds best when our employees feel engaged and empowered, and we look forward to building on this momentum for years to come.”

The ranking identified the top 1,000 companies in the United States and is based off of a large employer survey, as well as a a sample set of over 61,000 respondents living and working in the U.S. In total, Newsweek factored in 389,000 company reviews across all industry sectors. The report was in partnership with Plant-A.

"In an economic climate where the job market remains competitive despite fears of a recession, employers who stand out as America's Greatest Workplaces may find they have substantial advantages over their competitors," writes Nancy Cooper, editor of Newsweek, about the report.

The Baker Hughes Technology Showcase opens — and more things to know this week. Photo courtesy of Baker Hughes

New Houston energy tech showroom, a deadline not to forget, and more to know this week

take note

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition: looking back on top news from 2023, a deadline not to miss, and more.

New Baker Hughes Technology Showcase

The Baker Hughes Technology Showcase exists permanently at the company's Western Hemisphere Education Center in Tomball just outside of Houston to display the company's technologies.

There are more than 30 physical displays — some scaled down and 3D printed while others are exact replicas of the technology out in the field. In addition to these tangible pieces, hundreds are available to peruse on the touch-screen displays.

While there's the full technology spectrum represented, there's a particular focus on clean energy technologies — ones that aren't just future facing but are actually being used in the field today. Read more about the new showcase.

Upcoming deadline: The DOE's EnergyTech University Prize

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship will host the regional qualifier for a Department of Energy-backed student competition, and the application deadline to participate is coming up.

The DOE's EnergyTech University Prize, or EnergyTech UP, a virtual regional qualifier hosted by the Rice Alliance will take place in February, and applications for students and faculty are now open. A $400,000 collegiate competition, the program challenges student teams to develop a business plan based off of National Laboratory-developed or other emerging energy technology.

The application deadline is February 1 for students. This year there's a new track for faculty that has a prize of $100,000 on the line. Faculty have until January 5 to apply. Learn more.

The Baker Hughes Technology Showcase permanently displays the company's technology and clean energy solutions. Photo courtesy of Baker Hughes

Photos: Baker Hughes sets up interactive hub to showcase technology, sustainable energy solutions

virtual tour

When not traveling the world and being showcased internationally at various events and opportunities, the technology displays that Baker Hughes constructed to use as demonstrations and sales tools sat mostly in storage collecting dust until their next gig. That didn't sit well with Matt Hartman.

As sales and commercial enablement director, Hartman saw an opportunity for another use for these displays — one that would take them out of far-flung storage facilities.

"I wanted to reduce our storage and carbon footprint there, but I also wanted to make all of these items accessible at all times. And what better place to do it than one of the energy capitals of the world here in Houston," Hartman tells Energy Capital. "We moved everything out here and displayed it in a way that tells the full Baker Hughes story from drilling through production and including our new energies."

Now, the Baker Hughes Technology Showcase exists permanently at the company's Western Hemisphere Education Center in Tomball just outside of Houston.

There are more than 30 physical displays — some scaled down and 3D printed while others are exact replicas of the technology out in the field. In addition to these tangible pieces, hundreds are available to peruse on the touch-screen displays.

While there's the full technology spectrum represented, there's a particular focus on clean energy technologies — ones that aren't just future facing but are actually being used in the field today.

"It's all in line with our commitments that we made in 2019 to be net-zero by 2050," Hartman says, noting that Reuters reported the company's carbon footprint to 28 percent this year.

The showcase is designed for visitors and in-house teams alike, including current and potential customers, new hires, university students, and more.

"This particular building — the Western Hemisphere Education Center — is a really good building to have it in because we do anything for our training for our employees and our customers here," Hartman says. "What better place to have pieces of our technology or solutions here that they are learning about in a classroom and then they can come out here and actually put hands on."

The pieces of technology still travel of course, but when they aren't being displayed internationally, they now have a permanent place of residence to continue to be showcased.

Photo courtesy of Baker Hughes

Baker Hughes has officially moved into its new headquarters in Houston. Photo via bakerhughes.com

Baker Hughes unveils new HQ in Houston's Energy Corridor

moving in

Houston-based Baker Hughes officially opened the doors to its new headquarters in the Energy Corridor last week.

At a celebration held Oct. 23, the energy service company unveiled its new space within Energy Center II at 575 N. Dairy Ashford. The move represents a consolidation of Baker Hughes' various offices in the Houston-area as the company decreases its corporate footprint by about 346,000-square-feet, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle.

It is moving from its former headquarters in North Houston, near IAH. About 1,300 employees will work from the building, according to a statement from Baker Hughes.

“The opening of our new Houston headquarters is an important moment in our strategic transformation as we continue to take energy forward,” Lorenzo Simonelli, Baker Hughes chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “Collaboration will be key to solving for the energy transition. We look forward to collaborating with our colleagues, partners, customers and new neighbors in the Energy Corridor to solve the Energy Trilemma.”

Additionally, the company reported that the new space will aim to help the company reduce costs, cut emissions, create more flexible workspaces and strengthen relationships within the Energy Corridor.

The new HQ includes features such as

  • Tech- and food-free quiet zones
  • Hybrid experience rooms for enhanced online meetings
  • About 25 open collaboration spaces
  • About 40 meeting rooms, including hybrid meeting rooms and a creative thinking room
  • About 12 community spaces
  • Nursing mothers suites
  • Prayer and meditation rooms

In other HQ news, ExxonMobil officially changed its headquarters to Houston over the summer. A July 5 filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission showed a significant step toward the HQ move that Exxon originally announced in early 2022.

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OTC names Houston professionals to 2024 class of emerging leaders

big winners

Nine people with ties to the Houston area have been named emerging leaders in the energy industry by the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC).

OTC’s annual Emerging Leaders program recognizes professionals with less than 10 years of experience in the offshore energy sector.

“This year's recipients embody the essence of what it means to be a young professional,” Alex Martinez, chair of the OTC board, says in a news release.

“Their commitment to excellence, relentless pursuit of knowledge, and unwavering passion for their work have set them apart. They have not only excelled in their field but have also shown remarkable leadership qualities, inspiring those around them to push beyond boundaries and explore new horizons.”

The 2024 honorees were recognized May 7 during an OTC ceremony at NRG Center. This year’s honorees with ties to the Houston area are:

  • Rebecca Caldwell, an exploration geologist at Chevron.
  • Jinbo Chen, associate professor in the School of Naval Architecture Ocean and Civil Engineering at China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China. He is a former staff drilling engineer at Houston-based Shell USA.
  • Pankaj Goel, a projects adviser at Spring-based ExxonMobil.
  • Mejdi Kammoun, a principal engineer at the Houston-based American Bureau of Shipping.
  • Mathilde Luycx, a petrophysicist for the technology and engineering business of Spring-based ExxonMobil.
  • J. Michael Renning, an engineer at the Houston-based American Bureau of Shipping.
  • Jian “Jason” Shi, an assistant professor of engineering technology, electrical engineering, and computer engineering at the University of Houston.
  • Yan Wang, an advanced technology development engineer for the technology and engineering business of Spring-based ExxonMobil.
  • Luz Zarate, a marine technology research engineer at Houston-based Shell International Exploration and Production.

In a UH news release, Shi explains that his research centers on safety concerns associated with energy transition in the industry’s offshore sector.

Shi hopes his work helps share a future “where our world is powered by an abundance of innovative energy sources, where technology coexists harmoniously with nature, and where humanity embarks on bold adventures into uncharted territory.”

Work done by Kammoun, a UH alumnus, at the American Bureau of Shipping zeroes in on developing marine and offshore safety regulations and requirements for shipping of energy storage and generation systems.

“My aspirations have always centered around contributing to a safer, greener world,” Kammoun says. “Whether through innovative technologies, sustainable practices or policy advocacy, my dream remains unwavering: to leave a lasting positive impact on our planet.”

Houston energy transition growth capital firm closes $1.5B fund

A Houston-based energy transition-focused growth capital firm announced the close of its second fund to the tune of $1.5 billion.

EnCap Energy Transition's Fund II, or EETF II, was created to invest in solutions to decarbonize the power industry, and invest in low carbon fuels and carbon management.This second energy transition fund follows EnCap Energy Transition Fund I, a $1.2 billion fund that deployed capital to seven material portfolio company investments and four fund realizations with Broad Reach Power, Jupiter Power, Triple Oak, and Paloma Solar & Wind.

Previously, the company made investment commitments to five portfolio companies through EETF II, including Bildmore Renewables, Linea Energy, Parliament Solar, Power Transitions, and Arbor Renewable Gas. With the Bildmore arm, the EnCap fund aims to fuel development of renewable energy projects that can’t attract traditional tax equity financing.

EnCap expects to have 8-10 portfolio companies in EETF II in total.

"The EnCap Energy Transition team is proud to have raised a sizeable pool of capital to continue to invest in the opportunity created by the shift to a lower-carbon energy system,” EnCap Energy Transition Managing Partner Jim Hughes says in a news release.

“We greatly appreciate the strong support from our existing investor base and are pleased to have added a number of new, high-quality investors, both domestically and internationally," he continues. "Since our inception in 2019, we now manage approximately $2.7 billion of capital commitments to invest in decarbonization and are excited for the opportunities ahead of us."

Recently,EnCap was part of a deal in the battery energy storage business carrying an equity value of more than $1 billion. Engie purchased the majority of a startup . Broad Reach’s battery storage business from EnCap Energy Transition Fund I. Broad Reach launched in 2019 with backing from EnCap.

“We continue to believe all sources of energy are needed to support the world’s growing energy needs and that our Energy Transition Team will build off the significant success achieved to date,” said EnCap Managing Partner Jason DeLorenzo in a news release.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Key takeaways from HETI's Climate Equity Report

The view from heti

The mission of the Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI) is to drive sustainable and equitable economic growth for an energy-abundant, low-carbon future in the greater Houston region.

Community engagement will play a key role in ensuring the environmental and economic benefits of the energy transition flow to all members of Greater Houston. This requires a shared understanding of concerns, values, and goals.

“As we make this transition to a lower-carbon energy future, we’re doing it in a way that creates economic opportunity for all Houstonians,” said Jane Stricker, Senior Vice President, Energy Transition and Executive Director of HETI. “When we think about what role community plays in that work, HETI is supported by industry leaders and a community advisory board to ensure that as this work moves forward, it moves forward in a way that benefits everyone.”

HETI recently collaborated with the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), Sallie Greenberg Consulting (SGC), energy companies with a presence in the region, and impacted community organization stakeholders and leaders to develop a baseline understanding of current corporate climate action, community needs, and preferred methods of engagement.

“We engaged HARC and SGC to help us to explore the intersection of the energy transition and community engagement,” said Stricker. “They helped us create a collaborative framework to support both companies and communities in advancing solutions for an equitable energy transition. The team has done a truly outstanding job to develop this report and framework.”

The Climate Equity Report, which includes the Framework for an Equitable Energy Transition and the Community Engagement Toolkit for an Equitable Energy Transition, was developed to help foster positive, two-way communication and engagement between Houston-area energy companies and the communities they impact. The Framework and Toolkit are based on in-depth research and interviews — with the aim of bridging the gap between corporate climate action, community engagement, and the federal government’s approach to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

“We have the opportunity to reassess how we approach these very important issues,” said John Hall, President and CEO of HARC. “Community members are not just interested in talking and becoming acquainted with the industry — they want to engage in constructive dialogue with the aim of delivering meaningful benefits that will improve the quality of their lives and those of their neighbors.”

“What I see for the first time in the 25 years that I’ve been working in this space is that we have a significant opportunity—right now—to change how we work in communities, how we work with communities, and how we can enter in a partnership to be able to drive equitable energy transition activities forward,” said Dr. Sallie Greenberg, Scientist, Strategic Advisor, and Engagement Specialist at Sallie Greenberg Consulting.

Findings from the Climate Equity Report highlight best practices and strategies to improve relationships, build trust, and address concerns. Ten key findings include:

  • Basic needs
    Helping the community address basic needs and reduce existing risks can reduce barriers to participation and improve community member engagement around the energy transition.
  • Equity considerations
    Equity considerations are growing increasingly important. Communities are looking for authentic processes that include community input on the highest-priority challenges.
  • Two-way engagement
    Successful two-way engagement requires information to flow in both directions. Authentic, targeted community engagement will be a key enabler of climate equity and decarbonization in Houston.
  • Transparency
    As energy companies seek to broaden engagement efforts, transparency is key. Project information must be as transparent and available as possible.
  • Trust flow
    There is a gap between company and community perceptions of engagement largely based on a “trust deficit” that will take time to address.
  • Engagement frequency
    Engagement alone isn’t enough. Consistent, frequent, organic engagement is required to build trust and overcome the “trust deficit” between energy companies and communities.
  • Accountability
    Impacts can be tangible and intangible. Community engagement work must be evaluated using a data-driven approach that measures how engagement activities address inequalities and benefit impacted groups.
  • Shifting priorities
    The type of engagement the community and the federal government wants and expects has changed. Companies must address this change to ensure community needs are acknowledged and met.
  • Stakeholder identification
    Not all stakeholders have the same voice or level of influence. Truly equitable engagement requires the inclusion of marginalized groups, especially those in frontline communities.
  • Program evaluation
    The evaluation process helps companies determine if engagement goals are being met. This includes conducting observations, surveys, and interviews throughout the evaluation process before sharing results with stakeholders and making program improvements based on the collected information.

Read the full report here. Watch the Connect on Climate Equity webinar.

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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.