Element Fuels has designed the plant to produce and recycle hydrogen that will generate and deliver cleaner, higher-quality fuels. Photo via Getty Images

Houston-based Element Fuels has completed the pre-construction phase of its hydrogen-powered clean fuels refinery and combined-cycle power plant in the Port of Brownsville.

Element Fuels, which has contracted with Houston-based McDermott to provide front-end engineering design services for the project, has designed the plant to produce and recycle hydrogen that will generate and deliver cleaner, higher-quality fuels, including much-needed high-octane gasoline and electricity for commercial and consumer consumption.

“Element Fuels has received the necessary permitting to construct and operate a refinery capable of producing in excess of 160,000 barrels, or approximately 6.7 million gallons, per day of finished gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel,” Founder and Co-CEO of Element Fuels John Calce says in a news release. “A permit for a greenfield refinery of this size, scope, and functionality has not been granted in the United States since the 1970s. This speaks to the innovative approaches we are taking to address climate and sustainability concerns in cleaner, greener ways that are new to the refinery space.”

The project is expected to go online in 2027 and will produce enough low-carbon hydrogen to supply approximately 100 percent of the refinery’s fuel requirements, essentially eliminating CO2 emissions, per the news release. More than 100 megawatts of excess electricity generated from the power plant will be provided to the Energy Reliability Council of Texas for the surrounding community’s needs.

“Element Fuels is not only ushering in the next generation of clean fuels, we’re also proving that, without a doubt, there is a way to produce higher quality, cleaner, higher-octane fuels that significantly advance the energy transition," Calce continues. "This changes everything – for the industry, for consumers, and for the well-being of the planet.”

The plant is located in South Texas and built on more than 240 acres within the Port of Brownsville. Element Fuels is reportedly collaborating with local and Port officials "to advance the Justice40 initiative established by the U.S. Department of Commerce to contribute to a climate-positive environment that provides residents of the Brownsville area and Rio Grande Valley with clean energy and affordable and sustainable housing," per the release.

“Building on our successful collaboration during early project phases, we believe we are uniquely positioned to leverage our expertise and knowledge to further support Element Fuels throughout the next stages of this unique project,” adds Rob Shaul, senior vice president at Low Carbon Solutions at McDermott. “We remain focused on the delivery of low carbon pathway projects and are committed to advancing the landscape of energy production.”

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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.

Growing Houston biotech company expands leadership as it commercializes sustainable products

onboarding

Houston-based biotech company Cemvita recently tapped two executives to help commercialize its sustainable fuel made from carbon waste.

Nádia Skorupa Parachin came aboard as vice president of industrial biotechnology, and Phil Garcia was promoted to vice president of commercialization.

Parachin most recently oversaw several projects at Boston-based biotech company Ginkjo Bioworks. She previously co-founded Brazilian biotech startup Integra Bioprocessos.

Parachin will lead the Cemvita team that’s developing technology for production of bio-manufactured oil.

“It’s a fantastic moment, as we’re poised to take our prototyping to the next level, and all under the innovative direction of our co-founder Tara Karimi,” Parachin says in a news release. “We will be bringing something truly remarkable to market and ensuring it’s cost-effective.”

Moji Karimi, co-founder and CEO of Cemvita, says the hiring of Parachin represents “the natural next step” toward commercializing the startup’s carbon-to-oil process.

“Her background prepared her to bring the best out of the scientists at the inflection point of commercialization — really bringing things to life,” says Moji Karimi, Tara’s brother.

Parachin joins Garcia on Cemvita’s executive team.

Before being promoted to vice president of commercialization, Garcia was the startup’s commercial director and business development manager. He has a background in engineering and business development.

Founded in 2017, Cemvita recently announced a breakthrough that enables production of large quantities of oil derived from carbon waste.

In 2023, United Airlines agreed to buy up to one billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel from Cemvita’s first full-scale plant over the course of 20 years.

Cemvita’s investors include the UAV Sustainable Flight Fund, an investment arm of Chicago-based United; Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, an investment arm of Houston-based energy company Occidental Petroleum; and Japanese equipment and machinery manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

New talent-packed TV show taps into Texas oil boom history

spotlight on TX

A new television show that's slated to premiere this fall will put Texas' oil boom on center stage.

Taylor Sheridan's buzzy new Texas-based series Landman will premiere Sunday, November 17, on Paramount+, the network revealed. That's just one week after the November 10 debut of the final episodes of Sheridan's Yellowstone on Paramount.

Landmanwill launch with two episodes, with subsequent ones dropping weekly on Sundays, a news release says. In total, the first season will be 10 episodes long. The series is based on Texas Monthly's acclaimed podcast Boomtown by West Texas-raised journalist Christian Wallace, which aired from late 2019 to early 2020. Wallace is serving as a consultant and writer on the series.

"Set in the proverbial boomtowns of West Texas, Landman is a modern-day tale of fortune seeking in the world of oil rigs," the show's release says. "Based on the notable 11-part podcast Boomtown, the series is an upstairs/downstairs story of roughnecks and wildcat billionaires fueling a boom so big, it’s reshaping our climate, our economy and our geopolitics."

Landman, Paramount+'Landman' stars Billy Bob Thornton. Photo courtesy of Paramount+

The series stars Billy Bob Thornton as the titular "land man" Tommy Norris, a crisis manager for an oil company.

He leads an all-star cast that includes Demi Moore as Cami Miller and Jon Hamm in a recurring guest role as her husband, Texas oil titan Monty Miller. Ali Larter plays Thornton's wife, Angela Norris; their two kids are portrayed by Michelle Randolph (1923) and Jacob Lofland (Joker 2).

Landman, Jon Hamm, Demi MooreJon Hamm stars as Texas oil titan Monty Miller, and Demi Moore plays his wife, Cami.Photo courtesy of Paramount+

Other stars include James Jordan (Yellowstone), Kayla Wallace (When Calls the Heart), Mark Collie (Nashville), and Paulina Chávez (The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia); Andy Garcia (Expendables franchise) and Michael Peña (End of Watch)will make guest appearances.

Sheridan is creator and executive co-producer, and the show is produced by MTV Entertainment Studios, 101 Studios, and Sheridan’s Bosque Ranch Productions. Its release comes sooner than expected; even the show's IMDB page says "2025."

Although it's set in West Texas,Landman has been filming around Dallas-Fort Worth since early 2024, with the show's stars frequenting restaurants and shops around town. Fans have been making a sport of posting local star sightings on social media.

Some lucky residents even got to be extras in sports scenes shot at TCU.

Unlike 1883, which was filmed in and around North Texas in 2021, Landman is not considered a Yellowstone spinoff.

Filming around Dallas-Fort Worth is convenient for Sheridan, who lives on a ranch near Weatherford with his wife, Nicole. He also filmed parts of his series Lawmen: Bass Reeves in North Texas in 2023.

A Texas cowboy through and through, Sheridan is the creator of the award-winning series Yellowstone, its prequels 1883 and 1923, and a forthcoming one reportedly called 1944, starring fellow Texan Matthew McConaughey.

The only question left is: Will Texas get to host the big Landman red-carpet premiere, as Fort Worth did for the Yellowstone Season 5 premiere in November 2022? Stay tuned.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.