ABB plans to collaborate with Houston-based Green Hydrogen International on the Hydrogen City project. Photo via Getty Images

Electrification and automation company ABB, whose U.S. headquarters for its Energy Industries business is in Houston, has tentatively agreed to supply power for a $10 billion hydrogen project in South Texas.

Under a new memorandum of understanding, ABB plans to collaborate with Houston-based Green Hydrogen International on the Hydrogen City project. The first phase of the project is expected to generate 280,000 tons of green hydrogen per year. This green hydrogen will then be converted to one million tons of green ammonia each year.

“Together, we will enable efforts to decarbonize global industry and progress towards a net-zero future,” Brandon Spencer, president of ABB Energy Industries, says in a news release.

The memorandum of understanding calls for ABB’s technology to be assessed for delivery of solar and onshore wind energy to the 2.2-gigawatt electrolyzer facility at Hydrogen City.

The project will store up to 24,000 tons of green hydrogen in underground salt caverns. A 75-mile pipeline to the nearby Corpus Christi energy port will carry the green hydrogen to an ammonia production facility. At this facility, green hydrogen will be turned into green ammonia that’ll be shipped to Europe and Asia.

Green Hydrogen International is in talks with companies interested in using green hydrogen from Hydrogen City as feedstock for sustainable aviation fuel and e-methane.

Hydrogen City will serve a global green ammonia market whose value is projected to reach $17.9 billion by 2030. Construction on Hydrogen City is scheduled to start in 2026, with initial production set for 2030.

Green Hydrogen International unveiled the multiphase Hydrogen City project in 2022, saying it would be “the world’s largest green hydrogen production and storage hub.” At his month’s CERAWeek in Houston, officials provided an update on Hydrogen City.

“Ammonia has the potential to support decarbonization efforts as part of the energy transition through its use as an alternative fuel for heavy transport such as shipping, as well as its current major use in fertilizer production,” ABB says in the news release.

Last October, Green Hydrogen International announced a Hydrogen City partnership with Japanese oil and gas giant Inpex, whose U.S. outpost is in Houston.

INPEX Corp. and Green Hydrogen International have agreed to a Joint Study Agreement to advance a South Texas hydrogen production facility called "Hydrogen City." Photo via Getty Images

Japanese company opts into joint initiative for green hydrogen, ammonia project in South Texas

hydrogen city, Texas

An oil and gas exploration and production company has signed on to collaborate on a green hydrogen project in Texas to keep up with growing global market demand.

INPEX Corp. and Green Hydrogen International have agreed to a Joint Study Agreement to advance a South Texas hydrogen production facility called "Hydrogen City." The project's first phase will produce 280,000 tons per year of green hydrogen and 1 million tons per year of green ammonia. Construction is slated to begin in 2026 with commercial operation expected in 2029.

INPEX's "unparalleled expertise in large energy project development combined with a world-class marketing organization will provide enormous advantages to the Hydrogen City project and our goal of producing the world's lowest-cost green hydrogen by 2029," Brian Maxwell, CEO of GHI, says in a news release.

The partnership brings together both entities' expertise, with INPEX's experience developing large scale energy projects and marketing LNG to international customers. Meanwhile, GHI uses salt cavern storage and behind-the-meter renewable power to produce low-cost green hydrogen.

"I am excited to announce this green hydrogen project in Texas, which exemplifies our unwavering commitment to environmental leadership and innovation," INPEX Representative Director, President, and CEO Takayuki Ueda says in the release. "INPEX's dedication to a brighter, greener future remains steadfast, and this endeavor in Texas marks a pivotal step in our vision for a more sustainable tomorrow."

INPEX is also a part of a large-scale, low-carbon ammonia production and export project on the Houston Ship Channel that was anounced ealier this month.

Hydrogen City, located in South Texas atop the Peidras Pintas Salt Dome, was originally announced in March 2022. There will be a 75 mile pipeline from Hydrogen City to Corpus Christi, supplying a 1 Million Tonne Per Annum (MTPA) ammonia production facility and local off-takers.

Image via ghi-corp.com

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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.