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

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

The project’s first phase is targeted to produce more than 1.1 million tonnes per annum of low-carbon ammonia by the end of 2027. Photo via Houston.org

4 energy companies join forces on low-carbon ammonia project on the Houston Ship Channel

team work

Four companies from all around the world have agreed to work on a large-scale, low-carbon ammonia production and export project on the Houston Ship Channel.

Tokyo-based INPEX Corporation, Paris-based Air Liquide Group, Oklahoma City-based LSB Industries Inc., and Houston-based Vopak Moda Houston LLC have agreed to collaborate on the project, which is expected to deliver its first phase by the end of 2027 with the production of more than 1.1 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of low-carbon ammonia.

“As we approach the achievement of our net zero target by 2050, the unveiling of our low carbon ammonia project in Texas, USA, stands as a momentous testament to INPEX's strong commitment to environmental leadership," INPEX President and CEO Takayuki Ueda says in a news release. "This innovative endeavor marks a significant milestone to create a clean fuel supply chain for a sustainable future.

"By harnessing the power of cutting-edge technologies and collaborative partnerships with Air Liquide, LSB and Vopak Moda, we are accelerating the transition to a low-carbon world, while solidifying our position as a pioneer in energy transformation and a responsible global energy player,” he continues.

Earlier this year, the project completed a feasibility study. Each of the companies will collaborate in various capacities, according to the release, including: Air Liquide and INPEX partnering on low-carbon hydrogen production with their respective technologies; LSB and INPEX collaborating on low-carbon ammonia production, with LSB selecting the ammonia loop technology provider, the pre-FEED, and the engineering, procurement and construction of the facility and LSB overseeing day-to-day operations; INPEX and LSB would sell the low-carbon ammonia and finalize off-take agreements; and Vopak Moda, which currently operates ammonia storage and handling infrastructure, will maintain its ownership of the existing infrastructure and future storage built.

“This project is well aligned with our strategy to become a leader in the global energy transition through the production of low-carbon ammonia,” Mark Behrman, LSB Industries president and CEO, says in the statement. “As a long-standing, highly experienced nitrogen producer and developer of nitrogen production facilities, we are uniquely positioned to play a key role in a critical element of this project by overseeing the design, construction and operation of the ammonia loop."

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Houston company expands JV to build new power generation, storage assets

team work

Houston-based Conduit Power is broadening the scope of its joint venture with Oklahoma City-based Riley Exploration Permian.

Under this deal, the joint venture, RPC Power, will build power generation and storage assets for the sale of energy and related services to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the power grid for the bulk of Texas.

RPC Power, established in March 2023, owns and operates power generation assets that use Riley Permian’s natural gas to power its oilfield operations in Yoakum County, located in West Texas.

The expanded relationship will enable RPC Power to sell power and related services to ERCOT, with plans for 100 megawatts of natural gas-fueled generation and battery energy storage systems across facilities in West Texas. The facilities are expected to start commercial operations in 2025.

In conjunction with the expanded scope, Riley Permian bumped up its stake in RPC Power from 35 percent to 50 percent. Furthermore, it plans to sell up to 10 million cubic feet per day of natural gas to RPC Power as feedstock supply for the new generation facilities.

"Our JV expansion at RPC Power represents a significant milestone for our company, and we are proud to build upon our successful partnership with Riley Permian,” Travis Windholz, managing director of Conduit, says in a news release.

Conduit, a portfolio company of private equity firm Grey Rock Investment Partners, designs, builds, and operates distributed power generation systems.

Riley Exploration Permian specializes in the exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas reserves, primarily within the Permian Basin.

Elon Musk sees more resistance against his multibillion dollar pay package

just say no

A second shareholder advisory firm has come out against reinstating a pay package for Tesla CEO Elon Musk that was voided earlier this year by a Delaware judge.

ISS late Thursday joined Glass Lewis in recommending against the package, recently valued by the company at $44.9 billion but in January had a value of about $56 billion.

Shareholders of the electric vehicle and solar panel company are voting on the package, with the results to be tabulated at Tesla's June 13 annual meeting.

ISS said in its recommendations on Tesla's proxy voting items that Musk's stock-based package was outsized when it was approved by shareholders in 2018, and it failed to accomplish board objectives voiced at that time.

The firm said that Tesla met the pay package’s performance objectives, and it recognized the company's substantial growth in size and profitability. But concerns about Musk spending too much time on other ventures that were raised in 2018 and since then have not been sufficiently addressed, ISS said.

“The grant, in many ways, failed to achieve the board’s other original objectives of focusing CEO Musk on the interests of Tesla shareholders, as opposed to other business endeavors, and aligning his financial interests more closely with those of Tesla stockholders,” ISS wrote.

Also, future concerns remain unaddressed, including a lack of clarity on Musk's future compensation and the potential for his pay to significantly dilute shareholder value, ISS wrote.

Musk plays big roles in his other ventures including SpaceX, Neuralink and the Boring Company. Last year he bought social media platform X and formed an artificial intelligence unit called xAI.

Last week the other prominent proxy advisory firm, Glass Lewis, also recommended against reinstating Musk's 2018 compensation package. The firm said the package would dilute shareholders' value by about 8.7%. The rationale for the package “does not in our view adequately consider dilution and its long-lasting effects on disinterested shareholders,” Glass Lewis wrote.

But in a proxy filing, Tesla said that Glass Lewis failed to consider that the 2018 award incentivized Musk to create over $735 billion in value for shareholders in the six years since it was approved.

“Tesla is one of the most successful enterprises of our time,” the filing said. “We have revolutionized the automotive market and become the first vertically integrated sustainable energy company."

Tesla is struggling with falling global sales, slowing electric vehicle demand, an aging model lineup and a stock price that has tumbled about 30% this year.

Tesla asked shareholders to restore Musk's pay package after it was rejected by a Delaware judge this year. At the time, it also asked to shift the company’s legal corporate home to Texas.

Glass Lewis recommended against moving the legal corporate home to Texas, but ISS said it favored the move.

California’s public employee retirement system, which holds a stake in Tesla, said it has not made a final decision on how it will vote on Musk’s pay. But CEO Marcie Frost told CNBC that as of Wednesday, the system would not vote in favor. CalPERS, which opposed the package in 2018, said it will discuss the matter with Tesla “in the coming days.”

In January, Delaware Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick ruled that Musk is not entitled to the landmark stock compensation that was to be granted over 10 years.

Ruling on a lawsuit from a shareholder, she voided the pay package, saying that Musk essentially controlled the board, making the process of enacting the compensation unfair to stakeholders. “Musk had extensive ties with the persons tasked with negotiating on Tesla’s behalf,” she wrote in her ruling.

In a letter to shareholders released in a regulatory filing last month, Tesla Chairwoman Robyn Denholm said that Musk has delivered on the growth it was looking for at the automaker, with Tesla meeting all of the stock value and operational targets in the 2018 package. Shares at the time were up 571% since the pay package began.

“Because the Delaware Court second-guessed your decision, Elon has not been paid for any of his work for Tesla for the past six years that has helped to generate significant growth and stockholder value,” Denholm wrote. “That strikes us — and the many stockholders from whom we already have heard — as fundamentally unfair, and inconsistent with the will of the stockholders who voted for it.”

Tesla posted record deliveries of more than 1.8 million electric vehicles worldwide in 2023, but the value of its shares has eroded quickly this year as EV sales soften.

The company said it delivered 386,810 vehicles from January through March, nearly 9% fewer than it sold in the same period last year. Future growth is in doubt and it may be a challenge to get shareholders to back a fat pay package in an environment where competition has increased worldwide.

Starting last year, Tesla has cut prices as much as $20,000 on some models. The price cuts caused used electric vehicle values to drop and clipped Tesla’s profit margins.

In April, Tesla said that it was letting about 10% of its workers go, about 14,000 people.

Things to know: $17.5B oil acquisition, new accelerator focuses on sustainability, and more in Houston energy

take note

Editor's note: Dive headfirst into the new week with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition: a podcast episode with a biotech leader, a very big oil and gas deal, and events not to miss.


Big deal: ConocoPhillips to buy Marathon Oil for $17.B in all-stock deal

ConocoPhillips is buying Marathon Oil in an all-stock deal valued at approximately $17.1 billion as energy prices rise and big oil companies reap massive profits.

The deal to combine the two Houston-headquartered companies is valued at $22.5 billion when including $5.4 billion in debt.

Crude prices have jumped more than 12% this year and the cost for a barrel rose above $80 this week. Oil majors put up record profits after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and while those numbers have slipped, there has been a surge in mergers between energy companies flush with cash. Continue reading.

Podcast to stream: Carlos Estrada, head of Venture Acceleration at BioWell, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast

Bioindustrial technologies have a high potential for impacting sustainability — but they tend to need a little bit more help navigating the startup valley of death. That's where the BioWell comes in.

Carlos Estrada, head of Venture Acceleration at BioWell, says the idea for the accelerator was came to First Bight Ventures, a Houston-based biomanufacturing investment firm, as it began building its portfolio of promising companies.

"While we were looking at various companies, we found ourselves finding different needs that these startups have," Estrada says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "That's how the opportunity for the BioWell came about." Continue reading.

Events not to miss

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

  • The Energy Drone & Robotics Summit is coming to Houston June 10 to 12. Join for the ultimate event in the world for UAVs, Robotics & Data/AI, 3D Reality Capture, Geospatial and Digital Twins focused on the business and technology in energy & industrial operations, inspections, maintenance, surveying & mapping. Register now.
  • Argus Clean Ammonia North America Conference will take place on June 12 to 14 at the Hyatt Regency Houston. Over the three days of the conference, explore the big questions many producers are facing around where demand is coming from, expect to hear perspectives from key domestic consumers as well as international demand centres for clean ammonia. Register now.
  • Join the over 150 senior energy and utilities leaders from June 17 to 18 in Houston for AI in Energy to unlock the potential of AI within your enterprise and delve into key areas for its development.Register now.
  • Energy Underground (June) is a group of professionals in the Greater Houston area that are accelerating the Energy Transition that connect monthly at The Cannon - West Houston. Register now.