Standard Lithium retaining operatorship, while Equinor will support through its core competencies, like subsurface and project execution capabilities. Photo via Equinor.com

A Norwegian international energy company has entered into a deal to take a 45-percent share in two lithium project companies in Southwest Arkansas and East Texas.

Equinor, which has its U.S. headquarters in Houston, has reached an agreement with Vancouver, Canada-based Standard Lithium Ltd. to make the acquisition. Standard Lithium retaining operatorship, while Equinor will support through its core competencies, like subsurface and project execution capabilities.

“Sustainably produced lithium can be an enabler in the energy transition, and we believe it can become an attractive business. This investment is an option with limited upfront financial commitment. We can utilise core technologies from oil and gas in a complementary partnership to mature these projects towards a possible final investment decision,” says Morten Halleraker, senior vice president for New Business and Investments in Technology, Digital and Innovation at Equinor, in a news release.

Standard Lithium retains the other 55 percent of the projects. Per the deal, will pay $30 million in past costs net to the acquired interest. The company also agreed to carry Standard Lithium's capex of $33 million "to progress the assets towards a possible final investment decision," per the release. Additionally, Equinor will make milestone payments of up to $70 million in aggregate to Standard Lithium should a final investment decision be taken.

Lithium is regarded as important to the energy transition due to its use in battery storage, including in electric vehicles. Direct Lithium Extraction, or DLE, produces the mineral from subsurface reservoirs. New technologies have the potential to improve this production method while lowering the environmental footprint.

Earlier this month, Houston-based International Battery Metals, whose technology offers an eco-friendly way to extract lithium compounds from brine, announced that it's installing what it’s billing as the world’s first commercial modular direct-lithium extraction plant located at US Magnesium’s operations outside Salt Lake City. The plant is expected to go online later this year.

ALLY Energy celebrated over 50 honorees at its annual awards event. Photo via LinkedIn

Top Houston energy teams, individuals, and companies honored at annual awards

meet the winnenrs

The brightest stars in Houston's energy community celebrated wins at an annual awards event this week.

ALLY Energy, a company that works with its clients to make the energy industry more equitable, hosted its seventh annual GRIT Awards and Best Energy Workplaces on October 26 — and named its prestigious winners. EnergyCapitalHTX, as well as its sister site InnovationMap, was a media partner for the event.

“Every year, we are astounded at how many impressive, committed people are demonstrating leadership and grit in their work to advance the energy transition and build more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces,” ALLY Energy CEO Katie Mehnert says in a news release naming the finalists. “This year is no exception. This is the time to celebrate so many crucial achievements that may otherwise go overlooked in the energy sector and in broader society.”

In addition to naming its winners, ALLY celebrated three Lifetime Achievement Award honorees who have distinguished careers championing change in energy and climate in the private or public sector in the areas of technology, policy, and workforce: John Berger, CEO of Sunnova Energy; Rhonda Morris, vice president and chief human resources officer of Chevron; and Amy Chronis, vice chair, US energy and chemicals leader, and Houston managing partner at Deloitte.

The big winners of 2023 are as follows.

The Professional Award

  • Alex Loureiro, Scientific Director at EnerGeo Alliance
  • Crystal McNack, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisor at Enbridge Inc.
  • Dani Milling, Gulf of Mexico Environmental Engineer & Mexico HSE Coordinator at Chevron
  • Katie Zimmerman, Decarbonization Director, Americas at Wood
  • Mark Klapatch-Mathias, Sustainability Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls
  • Natalie Valentine, Director - Business Performance at Worley
  • Syed Fahim, Global ESG Lead at SLB
  • Tane Bates, Regional Operations Manager at Certarus LTD
  • Ujunwa Ojemeni, Senior Policy Advisor - Energy Transition & Technical Assistance Delivery at E3G - Third Generation Environmentalism

The Executive Award

  • Cara Hair, SVP of Corporate Services, Chief Legal and Compliance Officer at Helmerich & Payne
  • Emma Lewis, Senior Vice President USGC Chemicals & Products at Shell
  • Jeremy Campbell-Wray, Strategic Accounts and Enterprise Growth Market Executive at Baker Hughes
  • Maggie Seeliger, SVP & Global Head of Strategy, Energy & Resources at Sodexo
  • Max Chan, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development Officer at Enbridge
  • Megan Beauregard, Chief Legal Officer, Secretary, and Head of Policy and Regulatory Affairs at Enel North America, Inc.
  • Sarah Delille, Vice President of US Country Management at Equinor
  • Whitney Eaton, EVP, People & Sustainability at TGS Energy

The JEDI Award

  • Jason Limerick, Sustainability Strategy Lead at Woodside Energy
  • Melina Acevedo, Associate & Partnerships Lead at DE Shaw Renewable Investments

The Entrepreneur Award

  • Charli Matthews, CEO at Empowering Women in Industry
  • Mike Francis, Co-Founder and CEO at NanoTech

The ESG & Climate Champion Award

  • Andrea Hepp, Deal Lead at Shell
  • Brittney Marshall, Senior Advisor, Climate Strategy and Policy at Woodside Energy
  • Gabriel Rolland, Vice President, Corporate QHSE at TGS Energy
  • Sandhya Ganapathy, Chief Executive Officer at EDP Renewables North America

Gritty Girl Award

  • Deepasha Baral, Student at the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies

Best Affinity Group, Employee Resource Group Award, sponsored by ChampionX

  • Baker Hughes
  • ChampionX
  • Shell
  • TPI Composites
  • Women's Energy Network Houston
  • Wood Mackenzie
  • Worley

Best Energy Team Award, sponsored by Ovintiv

  • Advisian Material Handling
  • Halliburton Labs
  • NOV Marketing
  • Syzygy Plasmonics, Rigel Manufacturing & Launch Team

Best Energy Workplaces Award

  • Aera Energy LLC
  • Baker Hughes
  • ChampionX
  • EDP Renewables North America
  • Enel
  • Global Edge Group
  • Shell
  • Southwestern Energy
  • Sunnova Energy International
  • TGS Energy
  • Wood
  • Woodside Energy
Events not to miss, Gulf Coast CCS project gets new Houston partner, and more things to know this week. Photo via Getty Images

3 things to know this week: Meet Chevron's UH fellows, Bayou Bend CCS's newest partner, can't-miss events

hou knew?

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to know in Houston's energy transition ecosystem. Meet the fellows selected for a UH-Chevron program, Equinor's involvement with Houston-area CCS project, and events not to miss this week.

Upcoming events to put on your radar

Photo via Getty Images

It's a new month — here are two energy events to have on your radar.

  • September 7 — Venture Houston is spotlighting digitization and decarbonization this year. It's a must-attend event for investors, entrepreneurs, and more.
  • September 21 — The Rice Alliance Energy Tech Venture Forum is an opportunity to learn about the latest emerging technologies, meet investors to seek funding, see promising companies, and more.

CCS project near Houston secures new local partner

The project is located in southeast Texas, about 70 miles outside of Houston. Image via equinor.com

As of last week, Equinor, which has its United States headquarters in Houston, now owns a 25 percent interest in Bayou Bend CCS LLC, one of the largest domestic carbon capture and storage projects. The project — a JV between Chevron, Talos Energy Inc., and now Equinor, is located along the Gulf Coast in southeast Texas. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Commercial CCS solutions are critical for hard-to-abate industries to meet their climate ambitions while maintaining their activity," Grete Tveit, senior vice president for Low Carbon Solutions in Equinor, says in a news release. "Entering Bayou Bend strengthens our low carbon solutions portfolio and supports our ambition to mature and develop 15-30 million tonnes of equity CO2 transport and storage capacity per year by 2035. Our experience from developing carbon storage projects can help advance decarbonization efforts in one of the largest industrial corridors in the US."

In 2021, Texas General Land Office in Jefferson County, Texas, selected Talos and Carbonvert for the carbon storage lease, located in state waters offshore Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas. Chevron joined the JV in May 2022. The project expanded earlier this year.

Meet Chevron's fellows from the University of Houston

The PhD and doctoral students will each receive a one-year $12,000 fellowship, along with mentoring from experts at UH and Chevron. Photo via UH.edu

The University of Houston has named eight graduate students to its first-ever cohort of UH-Chevron Energy Graduate Fellows. The PhD and doctoral students will each receive a one-year $12,000 fellowship, along with mentoring from experts at UH and Chevron. Their work focuses on energy-related research in fields ranging from public policy to geophysics and math. The fellowship is funded by Chevron.

“The UH-Chevron Energy Fellowship program is an exciting opportunity for our graduate students to research the many critical areas that impact the energy industry, our communities and our global competitiveness,” Ramanan Krishnamoorti, UH's Vice President for Energy and Innovation says in a statement.

“Today’s students not only recognize the importance of energy, but they are actively driving the push for affordable, reliable, sustainable and secure energy and making choices that clearly indicate that they are meaningfully contributing to the change,” he continues.

Through an acquisition, Equinor has joined a joint venture carbon capture and storage project in southeast Texas. Image via Getty Images

Equinor buys into massive CCS joint venture project near Houston

M&A Moves

A Norwegian energy company with its United States headquarters in Houston has announced it has acquired a significant chunk of a carbon capture and storage joint venture.

Equinor now owns a 25 percent interest in Bayou Bend CCS LLC, which is reported to be one of the largest domestic carbon capture and storage projects. The project — a JV between Chevron, Talos Energy Inc., and now Equinor, is located along the Gulf Coast in southeast Texas. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Commercial CCS solutions are critical for hard-to-abate industries to meet their climate ambitions while maintaining their activity," Grete Tveit, senior vice president for Low Carbon Solutions in Equinor, says in a news release. "Entering Bayou Bend strengthens our low carbon solutions portfolio and supports our ambition to mature and develop 15-30 million tonnes of equity CO2 transport and storage capacity per year by 2035. Our experience from developing carbon storage projects can help advance decarbonization efforts in one of the largest industrial corridors in the US."

According to Equinor, it purchased its share through the acquisition of Carbonvert's subsidiary, Texas Carbon 1 LLC. Chevron, the operator, holds 50 percent interest, and Talos holds the other 25 percent interest.

“We look forward to working together with our partners to further mature this exciting project. Bayou Bend is Equinor’s first announced low carbon solutions project on the Gulf Coast. Alongside our upstream production and offshore wind developments, we’re strengthening our position as a broad energy company and expanding our footprint in the Gulf region,” Chris Golden, senior vice president and US Country Manager, says in the release. "Bayou Bend is a significant milestone towards growing our low carbon portfolio in the US.”

With about 140,000 gross acres of pore space for permanent CO2 sequestration and over one billion metric tons of gross potential storage resources, according to the release, Bayou Bend is positioned to be one of the largest CCS solutions in the US for industrial emitters.The project spans around 100,000 gross acres across Chambers and Jefferson Counties in southeast Texas, and approximately 40,000 gross acres offshore Beaumont and Port Arthur.

“Delivering lower carbon solutions to harder-to-abate industries is fundamental to Chevron New Energies’ mission, and as a Southeast Texas native, I know how vital these industries are to our local communities and their economies,” Chris Powers, vice president of CCUS at Chevron New Energies, in the release. “We thank Carbonvert for its work on the project, and we look forward to Equinor bringing its expertise and resources to Bayou Bend as it joins the partnership.”

Each of the company's low-carbon innovation arms — Low Carbon Solutions at Equinor, Chevron New Energies division, and Talos Low Carbon Solutions division — are collaborating on the project.

“We continue to make significant progress in developing Bayou Bend, which we believe will be a premier regional carbon storage hub solution for Texas’ largest industrial region. Equinor is a welcomed addition to the partnership. Their experience and track record further enhance the joint venture, which is committed to developing safe, reliable, cost-effective lower carbon solutions while enabling continued economic growth,” said Robin Fielder, executive vice president – Low Carbon Strategy and Chief Sustainability Officer of Talos.

In 2021, Texas General Land Office in Jefferson County, Texas, selected Talos and Carbonvert for the carbon storage lease, located in state waters offshore Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas. Chevron joined the JV in May 2022. The project expanded earlier this year.

The project is located in southeast Texas, about 70 miles outside of Houston. Image via equinor.com

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Houston company tests ​all-electric CO2-to-fuel production technology

results are in

Houston-based clean energy company Syzygy Plasmonics has successfully tested all-electric CO2-to-fuel production technology at RTI International’s facility at North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park.

Syzygy says the technology can significantly decarbonize transportation by converting two potent greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, into low-carbon jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline.

Equinor Ventures and Sumitomo Corp. of Americas sponsored the pilot project.

“This project showcases our ability to fight climate change by converting harmful greenhouse gases into fuel,” Trevor Best, CEO of Syzygy, says in a news release.

“At scale,” he adds, “we’re talking about significantly reducing and potentially eliminating the carbon intensity of shipping, trucking, and aviation. This is a major step toward quickly and cost effectively cutting emissions from the heavy-duty transport sector.”

At commercial scale, a typical Syzygy plant will consume nearly 200,000 tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking 45,000 cars off the road.

“The results of this demonstration are encouraging and represent an important milestone in our collaboration with Syzygy,” says Sameer Parvathikar, director of renewable energy and energy storage at RTI.

In addition to the CO2-to-fuel demonstration, Syzygy's Ammonia e-Cracking™ technology has completed over 2,000 hours of performance and optimization testing at its plant in Houston. Syzygy is finalizing a site and partners for a commercial CO2-to-fuel plant.

Syzygy is working to decarbonize the chemical industry, responsible for almost 20 percent of industrial CO2 emissions, by using light instead of combustion to drive chemical reactions.

Barge hits bridge connecting Galveston and Pelican Island, causing partial collapse and oil spill

A barge slammed into a bridge pillar in Galveston, Texas, on Wednesday, spilling oil into waters near busy shipping channels and closing the only road to a small neighboring island. No injuries were reported.

The impact sent pieces of the bridge, which connects Galveston to Pelican Island, tumbling on top of the barge and shut down a stretch of waterway so crews could clean up the spill. The accident knocked one man off the vessel and into the water, but he was quickly recovered and was not injured, said Galveston County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Ray Nolen.

Ports along the Texas coast are hubs of international trade, but experts said the collision was unlikely to result in serious economic disruptions since it occurred in a lesser-used waterway. The island is on the opposite side of Galveston Island’s beaches that draw millions of tourists each year.

The accident happened shortly before 10 a.m. after a tugboat operator pushing two barges lost control of them, said David Flores, a bridge superintendent with the Galveston County Navigation District.

“The current was very bad, and the tide was high," Flores said. “He lost it.”

Pelican Island is only a few miles wide and is home to Texas A&M University at Galveston, a large shipyard and industrial facilities. Fewer than 200 people were on the campus when the collision happened, and all were eventually allowed to drive on the bridge to leave. The marine and maritime research institute said it plans to remain closed until at least Friday. Students who live on campus were allowed to remain there, but university officials warned those who live on campus and leave “should be prepared to remain off campus for an unknown period of time.”

The accident came weeks after a cargo ship crashed into a support column of the Francis Key Bridge in Baltimore on March 26, killing six construction workers.

The tugboat in Texas was pushing bunker barges, which are fuel barges for ships, Flores said. The barge, which is owned by Martin Petroleum, has a 30,000-gallon capacity, but it's not clear how much leaked into the bay, said Galveston County spokesperson Spencer Lewis. He said about 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers) of the waterway were shut down because of the spill.

The affected area is miles away from the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, which sees frequent barge traffic, and the Houston Ship Channel, a large shipping channel for ocean-going vessels. Aside from the environmental impact of the spill, the region is unlikely to see large economic disruption as a result of the accident, said Marcia Burns, a maritime transportation expert at the University of Houston

“Because Pelican Island is a smaller location, which is not in the heart of commercial events, then the impact is not as devastating," Burns said. “It’s a relatively smaller impact.”

At the bridge, a large piece of broken concrete and debris from the railroad hung over the side and on top of the barge that rammed into the passageway. Flores said the rail line only serves as protection for the structure and has never been used.

Opened in 1960, the Pelican Island Causeway Bridge was rated as “Poor” according to the Federal Highway Administration’s 2023 National Bridge Inventory released last June.

The overall rating of a bridge is based on whether the condition of any of its individual components — the deck, superstructure, substructure or culvert, if present — is rated poor or below.

In the case of the Pelican Island Causeway Bridge, inspectors rated the deck in “Satisfactory Condition,” the substructure in “Fair Condition” and the superstructure — or the component that absorbs the live traffic load — in “Poor Condition.”

The Texas Department of Transportation had been scheduled in the summer of 2025 to begin construction on a project to replace the bridge with a new one. The project was estimated to cost $194 million. In documents provided during a virtual public meeting last year, the department said the bridge has “reached the end of its design lifespan, and needs to be replaced.” The agency said it has spent over $12 million performing maintenance and repairs on the bridge in the past decade.

The bridge has one main steel span that measures 164 feet (50 meters), and federal data shows it was last inspected in December 2021. It’s unclear from the data if a state inspection took place after the Federal Highway Administration compiled the data.

The bridge had an average daily traffic figure of about 9,100 cars and trucks, according to a 2011 estimate.

___

Lozano reported from Houston. Associated Press reporters Christopher L. Keller in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Valerie Gonzalez in McAllen, Texas; Acacia Coronado in Austin, Texas; and Ken Miller in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

ExxonMobil, Intel eye sustainable solutions within data center innovation

the view from heti

Two multinational corporations have announced a new collaboration to create energy-efficient and sustainable solutions for data centers as the market experiences significant growth.

ExxonMobil and Intel are working to design, test, research and develop new liquid cooling technologies to optimize data center performance and help customers meet their sustainability goals. Liquid cooling solutions serve as an alternative to traditional air-cooling methods in data centers.

“Our partnership with ExxonMobil to co-develop turnkey solutions for liquid cooling will enable significant energy and water savings for data center and network deployments,” said Jen Huffstetler, Chief Product Sustainability Officer, Intel.

According to consulting firm McKinsey, “a hyperscaler’s data center can use as much power as 80,000 households do,” and that demand is expected to keep surging. Power consumption by the U.S. data center market is forecasted “to reach 35 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, up from 17 GW in 2022,” according to a McKinsey analysis. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, and other advanced computing techniques are increasing computational workloads, and in return, increasing electricity demand. Therefore, companies are searching for solutions to support this growth.

ExxonMobil launched its full portfolio of data center immersion fluid products last year. The partnership with Intel will allow them to further advance their efforts in this market.

“By integrating ExxonMobil’s proven expertise in liquid cooling technologies with Intel’s long legacy of industry leadership in world-changing computing technologies, together we will further the industry’s adoption and acceptance as it transitions to liquid cooling technologies,” said Sarah Horne, Vice President, ExxonMobil.

Learn more about this collaboration here.

———

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.