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."

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.”

The combined technology portfolios will accelerate the introduction of promising early-stage decarbonization technology. Photo via Getty Images

SLB to consolidate carbon capture business in partnership

M&A moves

SLB announced its plans to combine its carbon capture business with Norway company, Aker Carbon Capture.

Upon completion of the transaction, which is expected to close by the end of the second quarter of this year, SLB will own 80 percent of the combined business and ACC will own 20 percent.

According to a SLB news release, the combined technology portfolios will accelerate the introduction of promising early-stage decarbonization technology.

“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,” Olivier Le Peuch, CEO of SLB, says in the release. “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.

The International Energy Agency estimates that over one gigaton of CO2 every year year will need to be captured by 2030 — a figure that scales up to over six gigatons by 2050.

"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,” Le Peuch continues.

SLB is slated to pay NOK 4.12 billion — around $379.4 million — to own 80 percent of Aker Carbon Capture Holding AS, which owns ACC, per the news release, and SLB may also pay up to NOK 1.36 billion over the next three years, depending on business performance.

Here's 1PoinFive's newest customer on its Texas CCUS project. Photo via 1pointfive.com

AT&T makes deal with Oxy for carbon credits

seeing green

Telecommunications giant AT&T has agreed to purchase carbon removal credits from 1PointFive, the carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) subsidiary of Houston-based Occidental Petroleum.

Financial details weren’t disclosed.

The carbon credits will be tied to STRATOS, 1PointFive’s first large-scale direct air capture (DAC) facility. The billion-dollar project is being built near Odessa.

“AT&T’s carbon removal credit purchase is another proof point of the vital role that [DAC] can play in providing a high-integrity and durable solution to help organizations address their emissions,” Michael Avery, president and general manager of 1PointFive, says in a news release.

The AT&T deal comes just one month after 1PointFive announced a similar agreement with Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation, which specializes in industrial automation and digital transformation.

In November, Occidental announced that New York City-based investment manager BlackRock was chipping in $550 million as part of a joint venture to build STRATOS. The project, set to be completed in 2025, is designed to capture up to 500,000 metric tons of carbon emissions once it’s fully online.

Under 1PointFive’s deal with Dallas-based AT&T, CO2 underpinning the removal credits will be sucked out of the air and stored in underground salt-water formations.

In conjunction with the DAC deal, 1PointFive has joined AT&T’s Connected Climate Initiative, an effort aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by one gigaton by 2035.

Calpine’s Baytown Decarbonization Project will capture around two million metric tons of carbon dioxide for permanent sequestration each year. Photo via LinkedIn

DOE taps Houston company's facility to advance carbon capture, storage infrastructure

greenlight

Earlier this month, a Houston power company 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.

Calpine's Baytown Decarbonization project is projected to capture and store about two million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. The Baytown Energy Center is an existing 896-megawatt natural gas combined heat and power facility, according to a news release, "that provides steam and power to the adjacent Covestro chemicals manufacturing facility as well as power to the Texas electric grid."

The project will add post-combustion carbon capture equipment that will reduce the emissions intensity of two of its three combustion turbines at a design capture rate of 95 percent. In addition to the Baytown project, the DOE also selected Calpine’s carbon capture project at its Sutter Energy Center in California.

“We are very pleased and honored that the DOE has recognized the quality of this project and the strength of Calpine’s CCS program,” Thad Hill, CEO of Calpine Corp., says in the release. “We are looking forward to working with the DOE to finalize the cost-sharing agreement and with our other stakeholders to advance the development of the Baytown Decarbonization Project. Carbon capture is an important technology for decarbonizing the electricity sector and the economy. Calpine is very grateful for the commitment and support for the project by our stakeholders.”

The Baytown Decarbonization Project is being developed collaboratively with local stakeholders in East Houston. In addition to expanding full-time job opportunities, Calpine will enhance workforce development programs, target procurement with diverse and small business enterprises, and work with local schools and other organizations.

"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, says in the 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.”

Oxy, which broke ground on its DAC project Stratos earlier this year, has secured a $550 million commitment from a financial partner. Photo via 1pointfive.com

Oxy subsidiary gets $550M boost to form new CCUS joint venture

howdy, partner

Occidental Petroleum’s direct air capture (DAC) initiative just got a more than half-a-billion-dollar investment from Blackrock, the world’s largest asset management company.

Houston-based Occidental announced November 7 that on behalf of its investment clients, BlackRock has agreed to pump $550 million into the DAC facility, called Stratos, that Oxy is building in the Midland-Odessa area. The investment will be carried out through a joint venture between BlackRock and Oxy subsidiary 1PointFive, which specializes in carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS).

A groundbreaking ceremony for Stratos — being billed as the world’s largest DAC operation — was held in April 2023. Construction is scheduled to be completed in mid-2025. The facility is expected to capture up to 500,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

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

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

Vicki Hollub, president and CEO of Oxy, says the joint venture with BlackRock demonstrates that DAC is “becoming an investable technology.”

“We believe that BlackRock’s expertise across global markets and industries makes them the ideal partner to help further industrial-scale [DAC],” she says.

DAC removes CO2 from the atmosphere then stores it in underground geological formations.

“Occidental’s technical expertise brings unprecedented scale to this cutting-edge decarbonization technology,” says Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock.

He adds that Stratos “represents an incredible investment opportunity for BlackRock’s clients to invest in this unique energy infrastructure project and underscores the critical role of American energy companies in climate technology innovation.”

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

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.

———

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.

———

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.