The hub will combine advanced sorting and recycling operations to address the plastic waste challenge. Photo courtesy of LYB

Houston-based chemical company LyondellBasell has signed a land lease agreement for a new integrated plastic waste recycling hub by an existing industrial park in Knapsack, Germany.

The agreement is with YNCORIS, a German industrial service provider. The hub will combine advanced sorting and recycling operations to address the plastic waste challenge and the company hopes it will grow the circular economy.

The first phase of the project will see the construction of an advanced sorting facility, which will process mixed plastic waste that can produce feedstock for mechanical and advanced recycling, since this mixed plastic waste is not recycled and usually sent to incineration for energy recovery. The hub's initial advanced sorting facility expects to start operations in the first quarter of 2026. The large facility will cover an area equivalent to 20 soccer fields.

"The industrial park in Knapsack is the ideal location for our integrated hub as is it close to our world-scale facilities in Wesseling and will allow us to develop additional technologies for the recycling of plastic waste," Yvonne van der Laan, LyondellBasell's executive vice president of circular and low carbon solutions, says in a news release. "The integration of various technologies will allow us to build scale and offer our customers a wide range of products from recycled and renewable resources."

In April, LyondellBasell also secured 208 megawatts of renewable energy capacity from a solar park in Germany. Under the 12-year deal, LyondellBasell aim s to purchase about 210 gigawatt-hours of solar power each year from Germany-based Encavis Asset Management.

By 2030, LyondellBasell hopes to produce and market at least 2 million metric tons of recycled and renewable‑based polymers annually.

LYB is building its first industrial-scale catalytic advanced recycling demonstration plant at its site in Germany. Photo via lyondellbasell.com

LyondellBasell announces renewable energy power purchase agreement with German partner

power move

Houston-based chemical company LyondellBasell has agreed to secure 208 megawatts of renewable energy capacity from a solar park in Germany.

Under the 12-year deal, LyondellBasell will purchase about 210 gigawatt-hours of solar power each year from Germany-based Encavis Asset Management. That’s enough energy to power about 56,500 homes each year.

LyondellBasell aims to purchase at least half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The deal with Encavis will enable LyondellBasell to achieve more than 90 percent of that goal.

A report from BloombergNEF ranks LyondellBasell as the world’s third largest corporate buyer of clean energy, behind Amazon and Meta.

“This latest agreement will accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy across different sectors in Germany,” says Chris Cain, LyondellBasell’s senior vice president for net-zero transition strategy.

Construction of the solar park got underway in March, with completion set for next summer. The park’s total generating capacity for solar power will be 260 megawatts, which is enough to supply electricity to about 96,000 homes per year.

“Leveraging our industry know-how, we are committed to operating the solar park in an environmentally sustainable and economically profitable manner,” says Karsten Mieth, a spokesman for Encavis Asset Management.

Encavis Asset Management is a wholly owned subsidiary of Encavis, a large-scale producer of wind and solar power in Europe.

The plan is to operate the newly-acquired mechanical recycling plant in California to manufacture post-consumer recycled resins using plastic waste feedstock. Photo courtesy of LyondellBasell

LyondellBasell acquires California plastics recycling operations

seeing green

LyondellBasell has made a strategic acquisition of a plastics recycling facility.

The Houston-based company acquired the mechanical recycling assets containing rigid plastics recycling processing lines from recycling and waste management service provider PreZero. With the acquisition, LyondellBasell gains the processing facility in Jurupa Valley, California, with a production capacity of 50 million pounds per year for recycled materials.

The plan is to operate the newly-acquired mechanical recycling plant in California to manufacture post-consumer recycled resins using plastic waste feedstock, according to LyondellBasell. LyondellBasell aims to use recycled polymers under its CirculenRecover brand, which is part of the company's Circulen portfolio of products that enable the circular economy.

"This acquisition further strengthens our U.S. presence and will deliver value for our customers and plastic recycling rates in the West Coast," Yvonne van der Laan, LyondellBasell executive vice president, Circular and Low Carbon Solutions, says in a news release. "We will build upon our existing experience in plastic recycling in Europe and deliver a state-of-the-art, mechanical recycling facility to meet growing demand for recycled products in the U.S."

In 2025, LyondellBasell expects to finish the operations at its new facility.

With the previously announced equity stake in the Cyclyx joint venture and investment in the Cyclyx Circularity Center in Houston, the latest transaction hopes to enhance the competitiveness in the U.S. recycled products market.

Looking back at top energy transition news from the year, a podcast to stream, and more of what to know going into the last week of 2023. Photo via Getty Images

LYB buys in on plastics recycling co., a podcast to stream, and more to know this week

take note

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition: looking back on top news from 2023, a podcast to stream, and more.

LYB acquires German plastic waste sourcing and engineering company

Houston-based LyondellBasell, rebranded recently to LYB, announced earlier this month that it has acquired a minority share in Source One GmbH, Leiferde, Germany, a plastic waste sourcing and engineering company, that specializes specifically in solutions for hard-to-recycle post-consumer plastic waste. This investment gives LYB access to Source One's engineering and plastic waste sourcing services, according to a news release.

"We are committed to support the growing demand of our customers for circular solutions," says Yvonne van der Laan, LyondellBasell executive vice president of Circular and Low Carbon Solutions, in the news release. “With the investment in Source One we are taking another important step to secure access to plastic waste for our recycling activities and to strengthen our Circulen product portfolio of material made from recyclable or renewable resources.”

Podcast: Moji Karimi of Cemvita talks COP28, growth of the company, and more

Moji Karimi, CEO and co-founder of Cemvita, joined the Houston Innovators Podcast last week before he had even recovered from jet lag to talk about his biggest takeaways from 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties, more commonly known as COP28.

"It was a pretty amazing experience," Karimi says, comparing the event to how CERAWeek has evolved to really have a strong presence in its innovation-focused track called Agora. "This year you had a massive section for innovation and sustainability. I think that will become a theme in COP29 and beyond to bring entrepreneurs, investors, and more participating in the event."

Karimi's three big observations are outlined here, as is the full podcast with him sharing more about Cemvita's growth this year.

LYB is building its first industrial-scale catalytic advanced recycling demonstration plant at its site in Germany. Photo via lyondellbasell.com

Global chemicals co. with Houston HQ to build industrial-scale recycling plant in Germany

seeing green

This month, LyondellBasell has announced it has officially pulled the trigger on a new recycling plant in Germany.

Dutch chemicals leader LYB, as the company has rebranded recently, has made its final investment decision to build its first industrial-scale catalytic advanced recycling demonstration plant at its site in Wesseling, Germany.

The project is reported to be the first "commercial scale, single-train advanced recycling plant to convert post-consumer plastic waste into feedstock for production of new plastic materials that can be ran at net zero GHG emissions," per LYB's news release.

The plant will utilize LYB's MoReTec technology, which targets difficult to recycle plastics like mixed or flexible materials, and have an annual capacity of 50,000 tonnes per year. The amount expected to be recycled annually will equal plastic packaging waste generated by over 1.2 million German citizens per year.

"We are committed to addressing the global challenge of plastic waste and advancing a circular economy, and today's announcement is another meaningful step in that direction," says Peter Vanacker, LYB CEO, in the release. "Scaling up our catalytic advanced recycling technology will allow us to return larger volumes of plastic waste back into the value chain. By doing this, we will have the ability to produce more materials for high-quality applications, retaining value of plastics for as long as possible."

The plant's construction is anticipated to be done by the end of 2025. The majority of the sorted processed feedstock will be supplied by Source One Plastics, a joint venture of LYB and 23 Oaks Investments that formed in October 2022.

A few weeks ago, LYB purchased a 25 percent stake in a joint venture that seeks to accelerate advancements in plastic recycling. The joint venture, Cyclyx International, was formed in 2020 by Spring-based energy giant ExxonMobil and Tigard, Oregon-based plastic recycling innovator Agilyx.

In 2022, Cyclyx announced it had inked a deal with ExxonMobil and LyondellBasell to develop a first-of-its-kind plastic waste sorting and processing plant in the Houston area. The estimated $100 million facility, set to open in 2024, is poised to annually produce 330 million pounds of plastic feedstock, which is made up of recycled materials that can be used to manufacture new plastics.

Cruise pauses in Houston and beyond — and more things to know this week. Photo via Cruise/Facebook

Robotaxi put it in park, events not to miss, and other things to know in Houston energy transition news

get up to speed

Editor's note: It's a new week — start it strong with three quick things to know in Houston's energy transition ecosystem: events not to miss, robotaxis take a break, and more.

Events this week

Don't miss these two events.

  • November 7-8: Hydrogen North America 2024 will host the hydrogen sector's thought leaders for a two-day event. Learn more.
  • November 8 — The Houston Innovation Awards will honor the city's startups, entrepreneurs, and ecosystem, including energy tech innovators. Learn more.

Cruise hits the brakes

Cruise launched in Houston in October. Photo courtesy of Cruise

Self-driving taxi service, Cruise, which recently launched in Houston, has put it in park for the time being, as TechCrunch reported last month.

The company's California permit was rescinded, and Cruise announced a national pause on its service in a statement.

"The most important thing for us right now is to take steps to rebuild public trust. Part of this involves taking a hard look inwards and at how we do work at Cruise, even if it means doing things that are uncomfortable or difficult," reads the statement. "In that spirit, we have decided to proactively pause driverless operations across all of our fleets while we take time to examine our processes, systems, and tools and reflect on how we can better operate in a way that will earn public trust. This is not related to any new on-road incidents, and our supervised AV operations will continue."

Meet LYB — and its latest sustainability deal

LyondellBasell has rebranded as LYB. Photo via lyondellbasell.com

LyondellBasell has rebranded as LYB, revealing a new logo, tagline, and visual identity.

“With our new strategy firmly in place, our employees are adopting new ways of working to generate innovative, value-enhancing solutions to support our goals,” Peter Vanacker, LYB's CEO, says in the release.

The Dutch company, whose U.S. headquarters is in Houston, also recently announced that it has purchased a 25 percent stake in a joint venture that seeks to accelerate advancements in plastic recycling.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

4 Houston energy execs sound off on future workforce, collaboration, and more at OTC

overheard

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."

Halliburton introduces new pump technology designed for geothermal

fresh tech

Houston-based Halliburton has introduced a new technology that is designed specifically for geothermal energy applications.

The Summit ESP GeoESP is an advanced submersible borehole and surface pump technology GeoESP lifting pumps, which address challenges related to the transport of fluids to the surface through electric submersible pumps (ESP).

According to a news release from Halliburton, the pump will offer an “efficient, safe, and agile solution that streamlines geothermal operations and enhances overall performance.”

The inlet design minimizes power consumption, protects the pump against solids, and tackles scale formation. GeoESP lifting pumps can withstand extreme conditions with the ability to operate at temperatures up to 220°C (428°F) and can resist scale, corrosion, and abrasion.

GeoESP lifting pumps also use standard pump dimensions customized to suit various geothermal well conditions. With that, Halliburton will also offer a digital approach to geothermal well management with the Intelevat data science-driven platform to empower operators with real-time diagnostics and visualizations of “smart” field data. Halliburton states the system will improve well operations, increase production, extend system run life,reduce energy consumption, and minimize shutdowns.

“With increased global focus on low carbon energy sources, we are using our many decades of geothermal production expertise to help our customers maximize safety and improve efficiency,” Vice President of Artificial Lift Greg Schneider says in the release. “GeoESP lifting pumps build upon our current system to minimize power usage and help push the boundaries of what is possible with more complex well designs.”

Recently, more Houston-based companies have invested in geothermal technologies. GA Drilling and ZeroGeo Energy, a Swiss company specializing in renewable energy, announced a 12-megawatt Hot Dry Rock Geothermal Power Plant (Project THERMO), which is the first of several geothermal power and geothermal energy storage projects in Europe.

Additionally, Fervo Energy is exploring the potential for a geothermal energy system at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada. Sage Geosystems is working on an exploratory geothermal project for the Army’s Fort Bliss post in Texas. The Bliss project is the third U.S. Department of Defense geothermal initiative in the Lone Star State.

The Department of Energy announced two major initiatives that will reach the Gulf of Texas and Louisiana in U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm's address at CERAWeek by S&P Global in March. The Department of Energy’s latest Pathways to Commercial Liftoff report are initiatives established to provide investors with information of how specific energy technologies commercialize and what challenges they each have to overcome as they scale.

"Geothermal has such enormous potential,” she previously said during her address at CERAWEEK. “If we can capture the 'heat beneath our feet,' it can be the clean, reliable, base-load scalable power for everybody from industries to households."

Houston co. starts work on 9 orphan wells in Gulf of Mexico

temporary abandonment

A Houston-based company that develops, produces, and decommissions mature assets in a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable manner and begun work on the temporary abandonment of nine orphan wells.

Promethean Energy has announced the beginning of the project on the wells on behalf of the Department of Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, or BSEE. The temporary abandonment of the nine wells, which are located in the Matagorda Island lease area in the Gulf of Mexico, is the first stage of full decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure.

"We are very proud to have been able to start work and contribute to this project of strategic national importance commissioned by BSEE," Promethean's SVP Decommissioning Steve Louis says in a news release.

The company was awarded a five-year Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract "to address the most immediate and urgent needs representing safety and environmental hazards" of the wells which no prior owner survives, per the release.

Promethean has conducted its own inspection of the platforms using drone-based laser scan technology in order to digitalize the structures and evaluate the equipment to plan safe boarding and procedures.

The next steps of decommissioning the wells will be to repair the platforms and wellhead equipment, followed by well diagnostics testing and the well decommissioning itself.