First-of-its-kind, DOE-backed plant coming to Houston area

Carbon capture and storage

Houston power company Calpine announced plans to build the Baytown Carbon Capture and Storage Project, a carbon capture demonstration facility that aims to capture carbon dioxide from the Baytown Energy Center. Photo via DOE

The first full-scale implementation of carbon capture and storage technology at a natural gas combined cycle power plant in the U.S. is coming to Baytown.

Houston power company Calpine announced plans to build the Baytown Carbon Capture and Storage Project (Baytown CCS Project), which is a carbon capture demonstration facility that aims to capture carbon dioxide from the Baytown Energy Center (BEC). The BEC is a natural gas combined-cycle power plant in Baytown.

The Department of Energy recently announced that it will share in the cost of up to $270 million on the Baytown project. The DOE revealed more details on the project on its website.

The project aims to utilize Shell’s CANSOLV point-source technology to capture up to 2 million metric tons of CO2 per year, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of nearly 450,000 gasoline-powered cars. In addition, the project plans to sequester the CO2 in saline storage sites on the Gulf Coast.

Evaluating the use of greywater cooling to minimize freshwater consumption by reusing wastewater, the project’s primary power and steam off-taker Covestro hopes to prove “technologies that showcase the benefits of decarbonized process heat and electricity in the industrial sector,” according to a news release.

In December of 2023, Calpine was selected by the Department of Energy's Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations for a cost-sharing agreement for a commercial-scale carbon capture and storage project.

"This is a critical step towards decarbonizing Calpine’s facility, which is located on our Covestro Baytown site,” Demetri Zervoudis, Covestro head of operations for North America and Baytown site general manager, said in a previous news release. “Carbon capture and storage technology is an important tool for the chemical industry to reduce carbon emissions, and it is encouraging to see Calpine at the forefront of this transition.”

The Baytown Decarbonization Project was developed collaboratively with local stakeholders in East Houston. According to the company, the project has already incorporated community feedback into the project designs to reduce non-CO2 air pollutants and minimize the usage of freshwater. The company estimates creating 22-26 permanent jobs and 1,500,000 hours of construction jobs and has partnerships with minority-serving institutions.

“Carbon capture is an important technology for decarbonizing the electricity sector and the economy,” Thad Hill, CEO of Calpine Corp said in 2023 when the DOE decided to work with the CSS program. “Calpine is very grateful for the commitment and support for the project by our stakeholders.”

The partnership initially will focus on subsurface technology for reservoir engineering, as well as geoscience modeling and interpretation. Photo via

SLB, TotalEnergies team up on 10-year partnership to develop scalable digital solutions

here's the deal

Houston-based energy tech company SLB has forged a 10-year partnership with French energy company TotalEnergies to develop technology aimed at tackling industry challenges such as carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS).

“Collaboration and knowledge sharing are key for our industry to continuously develop more effective ways of unlocking energy access,” Rakesh Jaggi, president of SLB’s digital and integration business, says in a news release. “With this visionary partnership, we’re combining the know-how and expertise of both companies to accelerate the delivery of new digital capabilities that will benefit the whole industry.”

The partnership initially will focus on subsurface technology for reservoir engineering, as well as geoscience modeling and interpretation. The subsurface project will feature traditional technology coupled with artificial intelligence (AI).

Namita Shah, president of TotalEnergies’ OneTech business unit, says technology developed with SLB will help the oil and gas sector reduce emissions and dive deeper into geological carbon storage. TotalEnergies’ U.S. headquarters is in Houston.

“Through this digital partnership,” Shah says, “we will develop cutting-edge next-generation software, digital applications, and new algorithms applied to geoscience.”

One day after the digital partnership was announced, SLB said TotalEnergies had awarded a contract to SLB’s OneSubsea joint venture for a 13-well oil project being developed off the shore of Angola by TotalEnergies and two partners. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Initial production for the estimated $6 billion deepwater Kaminho project is targeted for 2028, generating up to 70,000 barrels of oil per day. TotalEnergies holds a 40 percent stake in Kaminho.

TotalEnergies owns a number of assets in Texas, including a refinery in Port Arthur. The refinery can produce about 200,000 barrels of oil per day along with low-sulfur fuels.

The deal will enable transportation of ExxonMobil’s low-carbon hydrogen through Air Liquide’s pipeline network. Photo via

ExxonMobil’s low-carbon hydrogen project in Baytown adds Air Liquide as partner

team work

Spring-based energy giant ExxonMobil has enlisted Air Liquide as a partner for what’s being billed as the world’s largest low-carbon hydrogen project.

The deal will enable transportation of ExxonMobil’s low-carbon hydrogen through Air Liquide’s pipeline network. Furthermore, Air Liquide will build and operate four units to supply 9,000 metric tons of oxygen and up to 6,500 metric tons of nitrogen each day for the ExxonMobil project.

Air Liquide’s U.S. headquarters is in Houston.

ExxonMobil’s hydrogen production facility is planned for the company’s 3,400-acre Baytown refining and petrochemical complex. The project is expected to produce 1 billion cubic feet of low-carbon hydrogen daily from natural gas and more than 1 million tons of low-carbon ammonia annually while capturing more than 98 percent of the associated carbon emissions.

“Momentum continues to build for the world’s largest low-carbon hydrogen project and the emerging hydrogen market,” Dan Ammann, president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions, says in a news release.

The hydrogen project is expected to come online in 2027 or 2028.

ExxonMobil says using hydrogen to fuel its olefins plant at Baytown could reduce sitewide carbon emissions by as much as 30 percent. Meanwhile, the carbon capture and storage (CSUS) component of the project would be capable of storing 10 million metric tons of carbon each year, the company says.

Carbon Clean says its tentative partnership with Merrill, Wisconsin-based AGRA Industries should speed up adoption of Carbon Clean’s CaptureX technology in the biofuel industry. Photo via

Houston co. enters new carbon capture collaboration focused on biofuels industry

cleaning up

Carbon Clean, a carbon capture company whose North American headquarters is in Houston, has forged a deal with a contractor to build modular carbon capture containers for the agricultural sector.

The company, based in the United Kingdom, says its tentative partnership with Merrill, Wisconsin-based AGRA Industries should speed up adoption of Carbon Clean’s CaptureX technology in the biofuel industry.

Carbon Clean’s technology has been installed at 49 sites around the world. Eighty percent of the sites have prefabricated modular carbon-capture containers, reducing construction and installation time.

The partnership will enable customers to capture CO2 released during the biofuel fermentation stage, enabling the production of fuels with lower carbon-intensity ratings. This will improve the ability of biofuel producers to claim federal tax credits, Carbon Clean says.

“Carbon Clean’s collaboration with AGRA Industries is a win-win for biofuel producers. Customers will benefit from the expertise of a leading agricultural engineering specialist and our modularized, innovative carbon capture technology that is cost-effective and simple to install,” Aniruddha Sharma, chair and CEO of Carbon Clean, says in a news release.

Carbon Clean’s customers include companies in the cement, steel, refinery, and energy-to-waste sectors.

Among the investors in Carbon Clean, founded in 2019, are Chevron, Samsung Ventures, Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, and WAVE Equity Partners. To date, the company has raised $260 million in funding, according to data platform Tracxn.

A new program at Rice University will educate recent graduates or returning learners on key opportunities within energy transition. Photo via Rice

Rice University introduces new program for energy transition, sustainability

future of energy

A Houston university has committed to preparing the workforce for the future of energy with its newest program.

Rice University announced plans to launch the Master of Energy Transition and Sustainability, or METS, in the fall. The 31 credit-hour program, which is a joint initiative between Rice's George R. Brown School of Engineering and the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, "will train graduates to face emergent challenges in the energy sector and drive innovation in sustainability across a wide range of domains from technology to economics and policy," according to the university.

“We believe that METS graduates will emerge as leaders and innovators in the energy industry, equipped with the skills and knowledge to drive sustainable solutions,” Rice President Reginald DesRoches says in the release. “Together we can shape a brighter, more resilient and cleaner future for generations to come.”

Some of the focus points of the program will be geothermal, hydrogen, and critical minerals recovery. Additionally, there will be education around new technologies within traditional oil and gas industry, like carbon capture and sequestration and subsurface storage.

“We are excited to welcome the inaugural cohort of METS students in the fall of 2024,” Thomas Killian, dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences and a professor of physics and astronomy, says in the release. “This program offers a unique opportunity for students to delve into cutting-edge research, tackle real-world challenges and make a meaningful impact on the future of energy.”

The new initiative is just the latest stage in Rice's relationship with the energy industry.

“This is an important initiative for Rice that is very much aligned with the university’s long-term commitment to tackle urgent generational challenges, not only in terms of research — we are well positioned to make significant contributions on that front — but also in terms of education,” says Michael Wong, the Tina and Sunit Patel Professor in Molecular Nanotechnology, chair and professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and a professor of chemistry, materials science and nanotechnology and of civil and environmental engineering. “We want prospective students to know that they can confidently learn the concepts and tools they need to thrive as sustainability and energy transition experts and thought leaders.”

Boulder, Colorado-based ION Clean Energy announces it has raised $45 million in financing. Photo via Getty Images

Chevron backs carbon capture tech company in $45M investment round

fresh funding

Chevron New Energies has a new cleantech company in its portfolio.

Boulder, Colorado-based ION Clean Energy announces it has raised $45 million in financing. The round was led by Chevron New Energies with participation from New York-based Carbon Direct Capital. Founded in 2008, ION's carbon dioxide capture technologies lower costs and make CO2 capture a more viable option for hard-to-abate emissions.

“We have truly special solvent technology. It is capable of very high capture efficiency with low energy use while simultaneously being exceptionally resistant to degradation with virtually undetectable emissions. That’s a pretty powerful combination that sets us apart from the competition. The investments from Chevron and Carbon Direct Capital are a huge testament to the hard work of our team and the potential of our technology,” ION founder and Executive Chairman Buz Brown says in a news release. “We appreciate their collaboration and with their investments 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.”

The funding will go toward ION’s organizational growth and commercial deployment of its ICE-31 liquid amine carbon capture technology.

“We continue to make progress on our goal to deliver the full value chain of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) as a business, and we believe ION is a part of this solution. ION has consistent proof points in technology performance, recognition from the Department of Energy, partnerships with global brands, and a strong book of business that it brings to the relationship,” Chris Powers, vice president of CCUS and emerging with CNE, says in the release. “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. We believe collaborations like this are essential to our efforts to grow carbon capture on a global scale.”

With the new investment, the company announced that Timothy Vail will join the company as CEO. He previously was CEO of Arbor Renewable Gas and founder and CEO of G2X Energy Inc. He also serves as an Operating Partner for OGCI Climate Investments.

"With these investments, we are well positioned to grow ION into a worldwide provider of high-performance point source capture solutions,” Vail says. “This capital allows us to accelerate the commercial deployment of our carbon capture technology.”

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Oxy subsidiary secures Microsoft as largest-ever DAC carbon removal credit customer

major move

Occidental Petroleum’s Houston-based carbon capture, utilization and, sequestration (CCUS) subsidiary, 1PointFive, has inked a six-year deal to sell 500,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide removal credits to software giant Microsoft.

In a news release, 1Point5 says this agreement represents the largest-ever single purchase of carbon credits enabled by direct air capture (DAC). DAC technology pulls CO2 from the air at any location, not just where carbon dioxide is emitted.

Under the agreement, the carbon dioxide that underlies the credits will be stored in a below-the-surface saline aquifer and won’t be used to produce oil or gas.

“A commitment of this magnitude further demonstrates how one of the world’s largest corporations is integrating scalable [DAC] into its net-zero strategy,” says Michael Avery, president and general manager of 1PointFive. “Energy demand across the technology industry is increasing, and we believe [DAC] is uniquely suited to remove residual emissions and further climate goals.”

Brian Marrs, senior director for carbon removal and energy at Microsoft, says DAC plays a key role in Microsoft’s effort to become carbon-negative by 2030.

The carbon dioxide will be stored at 1PointFive’s first industrial-scale DAC plant, being built near Odessa. The $1.3 billion Stratos project, which 1Point5 is developing through a joint venture with investment manager BlackRock, is designed to capture up to 500,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.

The facility is scheduled to open in mid-2025.

Aside from Microsoft, organizations that have agreed to buy carbon removal credits from 1Point5 include Amazon, Airbus, All Nippon Airways, the Houston Astros, the Houston Texans, and TD Bank.

Occidental says 1PointFive plans to set up more than 100 DAC facilities worldwide by 2035.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott demands answers from Houston power company following Beryl

investigation incoming

With around 270,000 homes and businesses still without power in the Houston area almost a week after Hurricane Beryl hit Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday said he's demanding an investigation into the response of the utility that serves the area as well as answers about its preparations for upcoming storms.

“Power companies along the Gulf Coast must be prepared to deal with hurricanes, to state the obvious,” Abbott said at his first news conference about Beryl since returning to the state from an economic development trip to Asia.

While CenterPoint Energy has restored power to about 2 million customers since the storm hit on July 8, the slow pace of recovery has put the utility, which provides electricity to the nation’s fourth-largest city, under mounting scrutiny over whether it was sufficiently prepared for the storm that left people without air conditioning in the searing summer heat.

Abbott said he was sending a letter to the Public Utility Commission of Texas requiring it to investigate why restoration has taken so long and what must be done to fix it. In the Houston area, Beryl toppled transmission lines, uprooted trees and snapped branches that crashed into power lines.

With months of hurricane season left, Abbott said he's giving CenterPoint until the end of the month to specify what it'll be doing to reduce or eliminate power outages in the event of another storm. He said that will include the company providing detailed plans to remove vegetation that still threatens power lines.

Abbott also said that CenterPoint didn't have “an adequate number of workers pre-staged" before the storm hit.

Following Abbott's news conference, CenterPoint said its top priority was “power to the remaining impacted customers as safely and quickly as possible,” adding that on Monday, the utility expects to have restored power to 90% of its customers. CenterPoint said it was committed to working with state and local leaders and to doing a “thorough review of our response.”

CenterPoint also said Sunday that it’s been “investing for years” to strengthen the area’s resilience to such storms.

The utility has defended its preparation for the storm and said that it has brought in about 12,000 additional workers from outside Houston. It has said it would have been unsafe to preposition those workers inside the predicted storm impact area before Beryl made landfall.

Brad Tutunjian, vice president for regulatory policy for CenterPoint Energy, said last week that the extensive damage to trees and power poles hampered the ability to restore power quickly.

A post Sunday on CenterPoint's website from its president and CEO, Jason Wells, said that over 2,100 utility poles were damaged during the storm and over 18,600 trees had to be removed from power lines, which impacted over 75% of the utility's distribution circuits.

Things to know: Beryl in the rearview, Devon Energy's big deal, and events not to miss

taking notes

Editor's note: Dive headfirst into the new week with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition.

Hurricane Beryl's big impact

Hundreds of thousands of people in the Houston area likely won’t have power restored until this week, as the city swelters in the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl.

The storm slammed into Texas on July 8, knocking out power to nearly 2.7 million homes and businesses and leaving huge swaths of the region in the dark and without air conditioning in the searing summer heat.

Although repairs have restored power to nearly 1.4 million customers, the scale of the damage and slow pace of recovery has put CenterPoint Energy, which provides electricity to the nation's fourth-largest city, under mounting scrutiny over whether it was sufficiently prepared for the storm and is doing enough now to make things right.

Some frustrated residents have also questioned why a part of the country that is all too familiar with major storms has been hobbled by a Category 1 hurricane, which is the weakest kind. But a storm's wind speed, alone, doesn't determine how dangerous it can be. Click here to continue reading this article from the AP.

Big deal: Devon Energy to acquire Houston exploration, production biz in $5B deal

Devon Energy is buying Grayson Mill Energy's Williston Basin business in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $5 billion as consolidation in the oil and gas sector ramps up.

The transaction includes $3.25 billion in cash and $1.75 billion in stock.

Grayson Mill Energy, based in Houston, is an oil and gas exploration company that received an initial investment from private equity firm EnCap Investments in 2016.

The firm appears to be stepping back from energy sector as it sells off assets. Last month EnCap-backed XCL Resources sold its Uinta Basin oil and gas assets to SM Energy Co. and Northern Oil and Gas in a transaction totaling $2.55 billion. EnCap had another deal in June as well, selling some assets to Matador Resources for nearly $2 billion. Click here to continue reading.

Events not to miss

Put these Houston-area energy-related events on your calendar.

  • 2024 Young Leaders Institute: Renewable Energy and Climate Solutions is taking place July 15 to July 19 at Asia Society of Texas. Register now.
  • CCS/Decarbonization Project Development, Finance and Investment, taking place July 23 to 25, is the deepest dive into the economic and regulatory factors driving the success of the CCS/CCUS project development landscape. Register now.
  • The 5th Texas Energy Forum 2024, organized by U.S. Energy Stream, will take place on August 21 and 22 at the Petroleum Club of Houston. Register now.