Houston-based microgrid company names new COO

c-suite switchup

Paul Froutan has been named COO of Enchanted Rock. Photo via Enchanted Rock

Houston-based Enchanted Rock, which provides dual-purpose microgrids, announced that Paul Froutan has been named COO.

Froutan joined Enchanted Rock in 2022 as the chief technology officer. He will replace Thais Grossi, who served in the role for nearly eight years.

Froutan previously led Google's Global Data Center Operations and was responsible for managing Google's worldwide data center and server operations. He also served as the vice president of engineering for Rackspace Hosting, and holds a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.

“Since joining Enchanted Rock, I've been impressed with the team's vast knowledge of natural gas microgrids and how that has been applied to deliver both customer resiliency and financial value," Froutan says in a news release. "Taking the next step and bringing technology, EPC, and O&M together under one umbrella will further improve our innovation feedback loop, which benefits our customers and the communities that rely on our services."

In his previous role with the company, Froutan was responsible for GraniteEcoSystem, Enchanted Rock's microgrid management software, and the launch of the company's advanced natural gas generator initiative. Froutan will lead the product engineering, EPC, and operations and maintenance teams.

"Paul has helped take the technology and intelligence powering our solutions to the next level, and we are pleased that he has accepted this expanded role," Thomas McAndrew, CEO of Enchanted Rock, says in a news release. "His understanding of emerging technologies and operational excellence, paired with his extensive experience leading high-performing teams, make him an excellent choice to continue our commitment to deliver customer-focused solutions. We are also extremely grateful for Thais' dedication to the Enchanted Rock team and our customers."

Enchanted Rock's electrical microgrids use natural gas and renewable natural gas to help produce lower carbon emissions and air pollutants than diesel generators,and are capable of achieving resiliency with net-zero emissions. The company recently received a $2.1 million grant from the California Energy Commission for development of technology aimed at reducing greenhouse gasses and other natural gas emissions. Enchanted Rock will share the grant with the University of California Riverside, or UCR.
The company, based in Tomball, has developed a mobile, scalable energy source that can be used anywhere, anytime. Image via kaizencleanenergy.com

Houston mobile hydrogen generator company gets PE backing to expand its business

fueling the future

An innovative Houston-area company is on a mission to make using hydrogen energy easier and cheaper.

A recently announced partnership with investment firm, Balcor Companies, will help make this a reality as Kaizen Clean Energy looks to make hydrogen energy more accessible, reliable and affordable. Announced July 6, Balcor now has an ownership stake in Kaizen. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The company, based in Tomball, has developed a “micro grid” hydrogen power station — a mobile, scalable energy source that can be used anywhere, anytime.

Balcor Companies Founder and Director Chris Balat says his company is looking at their stake in KCE as an investment in shaping a more sustainable world.

“We are thrilled to make our first foray into the energy sector with Kaizen Energy as our trusted partner,” he says in a statement. "Our association with Kaizen is a testament to our commitment towards a sustainable future, driving positive change in the world while delivering value to our stakeholders.”

Kaizen's mission is to succeed where electric grids fail. One fallback source to help strained electric grids has typically been diesel generators. However, diesel generators increase local emissions which produce a significant amount of air pollution and health concerns. Kaizen’s hydrogen generators can be used to power buildings, homes, hospitals, data centers, events, and farm equipment. They are portable, which means it does not require any excessive infrastructure.

“Our system allows customers the ability to have renewable energy anywhere in the world in a very short time frame,” said Eric Smith, co-founder of KCE. “For EV charging, for power generation, to replace a diesel generator.”

Smith tells EnergyCapitalhtx the concept is very attractive to corporations who lease buildings as building out a permanent infrastructure could be costly and time consuming.

Robert Meaney, a Texas Tech engineering graduate, founded Kaizen Clean Energy in 2020, along with Eric Smith and Craig Klaasmeyer. Meaney designed the technology using a mixture of methanol and water to create hydrogen. A 330-gallon tank of the mixture produces about 150 kilograms of hydrogen — or 1.6 megawatt-hours of energy. The mixture lowers the risks of many of the drawbacks of hydrogen usage. For example, it can be stored for longer periods and transported long distances safely.

The microgrid fits into a small container and can be dropped on site at remote locations or in heavily congested grid areas. It also eliminates the cost of hydrogen transportation by generating hydrogen on-site with commonly available methanol, which can be both used for hydrogen fuel and converted to electricity for electric vehicle charging. This microgrid technology can both connect to the grid to supplement available power, or can be used during a power outage.

To put this energy source to use, KCE has partnered with Extreme E, an international off-road racing series that is part of Formula 1 and uses electric SUV’s to race in remote parts of the world. Kaizen’s units are also being used at a fleet-charging location in Los Angeles.

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ExxonMobil's $60B acquisition gets FTC clearance — with one condition

M&A moves

ExxonMobil's $60 billion deal to buy Pioneer Natural Resources on Thursday received clearance from the Federal Trade Commission, but the former CEO of Pioneer was barred from joining the new company's board of directors.

The FTC said Thursday that Scott Sheffield, who founded Pioneer in 1997, colluded with OPEC and OPEC+ to potentially raise crude oil prices. Sheffield retired from the company in 2016, but he returned as president and CEO in 2019, served as CEO from 2021 to 2023, and continues to serve on the board. Since Jan. 1, he has served as special adviser to the company’s chief executive.

“Through public statements, text messages, in-person meetings, WhatsApp conversations and other communications while at Pioneer, Sheffield sought to align oil production across the Permian Basin in West Texas and New Mexico with OPEC+,” according to the FTC. It proposed a consent order that Exxon won't appoint any Pioneer employee, with a few exceptions, to its board.

Dallas-based Pioneer said in a statement it disagreed with the allegations but would not impede closing of the merger, which was announced in October 2023.

“Sheffield and Pioneer believe that the FTC’s complaint reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the U.S. and global oil markets and misreads the nature and intent of Mr. Sheffield’s actions,” the company said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said it was “disappointing that FTC is making the same mistake they made 25 years ago when I warned about the Exxon and Mobil merger in 1999.”

Schumer and 22 other Democratic senators had urged the FTC to investigate the deal and a separate merger between Chevron and Hess, saying they could lead to higher prices, hurt competition and force families to pay more at the pump.

The deal with Pioneer vastly expands Exxon’s presence in the Permian Basin, a huge oilfield that straddles the border between Texas and New Mexico. Pioneer’s more than 850,000 net acres in the Midland Basin will be combined with Exxon’s 570,000 net acres in the Delaware and Midland Basin, nearly contiguous fields that will allow the combined company to trim costs.

ExxonMobil revs up EV pilot in Permian Basin

seeing green

ExxonMobil has upgraded its Permian Basin fleet of trucks with sustainability in mind.

The Houston-headquartered company announced a new pilot program last week, rolling out 10 new all-electric pickup trucks at its Cowboy Central Delivery Point in southeast New Mexico. It's the first time the company has used EVs in any of its upstream sites, including the Permian Basin.

“We expect these EV trucks will require less maintenance, which will help reduce cost, while also contributing to our plan to achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions in our Permian operations by 2030," Kartik Garg, ExxonMobil's New Mexico production manager, says in a news release.

ExxonMobil has already deployed EV trucks at its facilities in Baytown, Beaumont, and Baton Rouge, but the Permian Basin, which accounts for about half of ExxonMobil's total U.S. oil production, is a larger site. The company reports that "a typical vehicle there can log 30,000 miles a year."

The EV rollout comes after the company announced last year that it plans to be a major supplier of lithium for EV battery technology.

At the end of last year, ExxonMobil increased its financial commitment to implementing more sustainable solutions. The company reported that it is pursuing more than $20 billion of lower-emissions opportunities through 2027.

Cowboys and the EVs of the Permian Basin | ExxonMobilyoutu.be