Weil, Gotshal & Manges announced infrastructure lawyer Jacqui Bogucki has returned to the firm. Photo via weil.com

An international law firm has named a new partner in the Houston office to help build its growing infrastructure and energy transition capabilities

Weil, Gotshal & Manges announced infrastructure lawyer Jacqui Bogucki has returned to the firm.

"Jacqui will be an extremely valuable addition to our growing Houston team,” says Weil Executive Partner Barry Wolf in a news release. “Her significant infrastructure experience – including in the digital sector – and strong relationships with leading investment professionals will help to advance our fast-growing infrastructure and energy transition capabilities, and will be an immediate value-add to our clients globally.”

She will advise private equity sponsors and strategic clients on a wide range of corporate transactions. Her focus will include infrastructure, digital, technology, energy transition, and oil and gas sectors. Previously, Bogucki was a partner in the Mergers & Acquisitions practice at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. Her previous stint at Weil was from 2014 through 2018.

“I am so pleased to have the opportunity to return to Weil, where I began my legal career,” says Bogucki in a news release. “It is an incredibly exciting time to be joining the Firm as it further builds out its infrastructure and energy transition capabilities. I look forward to reconnecting with former colleagues and leveraging my experience to provide the highest quality service to our clients.”

Since 2023, notable energy partners Omar Samji, Chris Bennett, Cody Carper, and Irina Tsveklova have joined Weil in Houston – with Steven Lorch joining in New York just last month.

Pulakesh Mukherjee, partner at Imperative Ventures, which specializes in hard tech decarbonization startups, will bring his unique experience to Halliburton Labs' network. Photo via LinkedIn

Halliburton Labs names Bay Area investor to advisory board

all aboard

Halliburton Labs has announced its newest advisory board member — a San Francisco-based venture capital investor.

Pulakesh Mukherjee, partner at Imperative Ventures, which specializes in hard tech decarbonization startups, will bring his unique experience to Halliburton Labs' network.

"We are pleased to welcome Pulakesh as we help emerging companies achieve scale and growth. Pulakesh brings strong expertise and an expansive network throughout the early-stage energy and climate tech ecosystem. We look forward to his guidance to catalyze increased collaboration among innovators, investors, and industry," Managing Director Dale Winger says in a news release.

Mukherjee, who co-founded his firm, previously worked on energy, agriculture, chemical, and industrial deals for BASF Venture Capital

Mukherjee joins Jeff Miller, Reggie DesRoches, John Grotzinger, Jennifer Holmgren, Maynard Holt, Walter Isaacson, and Dale Winger on the Advisory Board, according to Halliburton's news release.

Halliburton Labs, a wholly owned subsidiary of Halliburton Company (NYSE: HAL), has supported energy tech startups since its inception in 2020. Its next pitch day is March 14 in New Orleans, which will also be streamed live.

Scott Gale, executive director of Halliburton Labs, recently joined the Houston Innovators Podcast to discuss Halliburton Labs' mission and commitment to the community.

Top Houston banker Stephen Trauber has joined publicly traded investment bank Moelis & Co. Image via Shutterstock

Firm hires top Houston-based energy banker to grow energy transition team

new hire

Houston energy dealmaker Stephen Trauber has been tapped as chairman and global head of the energy and clean technology business at publicly traded investment bank Moelis & Co.

In 2010, The Wall Street Journalcalled Trauber “one of the best-connected energy bankers in Houston.”

Trauber comes to New York City-based Moelis from Citi, where he recently retired as vice chairman and global co-head of natural resources and clean energy transition. Before that, he was vice chairman and global head of energy at UBS Investment Bank, where he worked with Ken Moelis, who’s now chairman and CEO of Moelis.

“The global energy ecosystem is undergoing major consolidation and change,” Trauber says in a Moelis news release. “I look forward to actively participating in its strategic evolution and working with so many of our clients that are evaluating how best to create value during this period of transformation.”

In conjunction with Trauber’s hiring, Guggenheim Securities executives Muhammad Laghari and Alexander Burpee are joining Moelis as managing directors in Houston. They’ll work with upstream and midstream oil and gas clients. Laghari and Burpee previously were colleagues of Trauber at Citi.

During his career, Trauber has advised on more than $700 billion in energy deals, including mergers, acquisitions, and IPOs. Among the industry heavyweights involved in those deals were BP, Halliburton, Kinder Morgan, Nabors, Occidental Petroleum, Schlumberger, Shell, and Weatherford International.

“Steve is a recognized leader in the industry who has played a key role in many of the energy sector’s landmark transactions,” says Navid Mahmoodzadegan, co-founder and co-president of Moelis.

Three years ago, Trauber made waves when Spring-based ExxonMobil

rejected his pitch “to commit to a target for net-zero emissions even after shareholders staged a revolt over the company’s climate policy,” Bloomberg reported at the time.

Last year, Trauber joined the board of directors of Houston-based NEXT Renewable Fuels, the board of directors of Houston-based ASEAN Energy, and the M&A and transactions advisory board of London-based professional services giant Aon.

The three new hires at Moelis follow the September 2023 launch of its Clean Technology Group. Arash Nazhad of Houston is co-leader of the group.

Sarah McLean brings over 20 years of energy industry experience to her new role at Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Photo via Wilkie.com

New York law firm expands energy practice with new partner appointment

new hire

Willkie Farr & Gallagher has announced that Sarah McLean has joined the firm’s Houston office as a partner. It's the sixth energy industry group hire in the past year.

McLean’s practice will focus on private equity transactions. Mostly the transactions will be acting for sponsors in making portfolio investments, exiting their investments, and growing their platform companies.

“Willkie has leading private equity and transactional capabilities, a fast-growing energy platform and a collaborative culture across the Firm," McLean says in a news release. "I’m excited to join the exceptional team here and further strengthen Willkie’s dynamic work across the energy sector to support the growing needs of our clients.”

McLean was a joint head of the US Energy industry group at Shearman & Sterling prior to Willkie Farr & Gallagher, and her experience in the energy sector includes 20 years.

“Sarah is a standout private equity and energy lawyer and we are pleased to welcome her to Willkie,” Chairman Thomas Cerabino says in the release. ”She brings significant dealmaking experience to our global energy team in Texas and across the U.S. and Europe and will be an invaluable resource to our clients navigating the changing energy market.”

Willkie provides legal solutions to businesses that address critical issues that affect multiple industries and markets with 13 offices worldwide.

“Sarah has a stellar reputation as a market-leading lawyer and dealmaker, with deep private equity and M&A experience in the oil and gas and energy transition sectors that will further the growth of our expanding Texas platform,” Archie Fallon, managing partner of the Houston office, says in a news release. “As clients look for new opportunities in the evolving energy sector, Sarah’s substantial track record and experience will complement our capabilities in Texas and across the firm, and we are thrilled to welcome her to Willkie.”

Graham Payne, the new director of energy transition at Caliche Development Partners II, is bullish on Houston. Photo courtesy

Houston carbon storage solutions company names new energy transition leader at pivotal time of growth

ready to grow

Graham Payne sees a bright future for the multibillion-dollar energy transition economy in Houston.

“It’s been said that Houston is poised, like no other city, to lead the energy transition. And I’d have to agree, because we have all the requisite natural resources, industry, and talent,” says Payne, the new director of energy transition at Houston-based carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) company Caliche Development Partners II.

Caliche and other Houston-based energy transition companies secured $6.1 billion in private funding last year, up 62 percent from 2022, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.

“As the region positions itself as the leader in the global energy transition, Houston has seen constant growth in annual energy transition investments over the last five years,” the partnership says.

Payne, a geologist, comes to Caliche after holding roles at Battelle and Schlumberger, among other companies. Houston-based Sudduth Search recruited Payne for the Caliche job.

In his new position, Payne is overseeing permitting and completion of a leased 4,000-acre site in Beaumont for sequestration of carbon dioxide. Payne will also work on current and potential gas storage projects, which he says “will continue to play an important role in the energy mix.”

At previous employers, Payne has tackled various aspects of CCUS.

“The really enticing part about this job is the chance to put it all together, and then operate a full-scale operation,” he says. “I want this technology to move firmly out of the research phase and start making a measurable difference against climate change.”

Payne says Caliche is capable of successfully straddling the worlds of CCUS, natural gas storage, and industrial gas storage. The Beaumont project alone will be able sequester at least 30 million metric tons of carbon, a Caliche estimate indicates.

In November, Caliche announced the acquisition of its first CCUS assets, Golden Triangle Storage and Central Valley Gas Storage, following a $268 million infusion of capital from Orion Infrastructure Capital and GCM Grosvenor. Orion maintains offices in Houston, New York City, and London. GCM is based in Chicago.

The Golden Triangle and Central Valley deals were valued at a combined $186 million.

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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

Energy industry veteran named CEO of Houston hydrogen co.


Cleantech startup Gold H2, a spinout of Houston-based energy biotech company Cemvita, has named oil and gas industry veteran Prabhdeep Singh Sekhon as its CEO.

Sekhon previously held roles at companies such as NextEra Energy Resources and Hess. Most recently, he was a leader on NextEra’s strategy and business development team.

Gold H2 uses microbes to convert oil and gas in old, uneconomical wells into clean hydrogen. The approach to generating clean hydrogen is part of a multibillion-dollar market.

Gold H2 spun out of Cemvita last year with Moji Karimi, co-founder of Cemvita, leading the transition. Gold H2 spun out after successfully piloting its microbial hydrogen technology, producing hydrogen below 80 cents per kilogram.

The Gold H2 venture had been a business unit within Cemvita.

“I was drawn to Gold H2 because of its innovative mission to support the U.S. economy in this historical energy transition,” Sekhon says in a news release. “Over the last few years, my team [at NextEra] was heavily focused on the commercialization of clean hydrogen. When I came across Gold H2, it was clear that it was superior to each of its counterparts in both cost and [carbon intensity].”

Gold H2 explains that oil and gas companies have wrestled for decades with what to do with exhausted oil fields. With Gold H2’s first-of-its-kind biotechnology, these companies can find productive uses for oil wells by producing clean hydrogen at a low cost, the startup says.

“There is so much opportunity ahead of Gold H2 as the first company to use microbes in the subsurface to create a clean energy source,” Sekhon says. “Driving this dynamic industry change to empower clean hydrogen fuel production will be extremely rewarding.”


This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Q&A: CEO of bp-acquired RNG producer on energy sustainability, stability

the view from heti

bp’s Archaea Energy is the largest renewable natural gas (RNG) producer in the U.S., with an industry leading RNG platform and expertise in developing, constructing and operating RNG facilities to capture waste emissions and convert them into low carbon fuel.

Archaea partners with landfill owners, farmers and other facilities to help them transform their feedstock sources into RNG and convert these facilities into renewable energy centers.

Starlee Sykes, Archaea Energy’s CEO, shared more about bp’s acquisition of the company and their vision for the future.

HETI: bp completed its acquisition of Archaea in December 2022. What is the significance of this acquisition for bp, and how does it bolster Archaea’s mission to create sustainability and stability for future generations?  

Starlee Sykes: The acquisition was an important move to accelerate and grow our plans for bp’s bioenergy transition growth engine, one of five strategic transition growth engines. Archaea will not only play a pivotal role in bp’s transition and ambition to reach net zero by 2050 or sooner but is a key part of bp’s plan to increase biogas supply volumes.

HETI: Tell us more about how renewable natural gas is used and why it’s an important component of the energy transition?  

SS: Renewable natural gas (RNG) is a type of biogas generated by decomposing organic material at landfill sites, anaerobic digesters and other waste facilities – and demand for it is growing. Our facilities convert waste emissions into renewable natural gas. RNG is a lower carbon fuel, which according to the EPA can help reduce emissions, improve local air quality, and provide fuel for homes, businesses and transportation. Our process creates a productive use for methane which would otherwise be burned or vented to the atmosphere. And in doing so, we displace traditional fossil fuels from the energy system.

HETI: Archaea recently brought online a first-of-its-kind RNG plant in Medora, Indiana. Can you tell us more about the launch and why it’s such a significant milestone for the company?  

SS:Archaea’s Medora plant came online in October 2023 – it was the first Archaea RNG plant to come online since bp’s acquisition. At Medora, we deployed the Archaea Modular Design (AMD) which streamlines and accelerates the time it takes to build our plants. Traditionally, RNG plants have been custom-built, but AMD allows plants to be built on skids with interchangeable components for faster builds.

HETI: Now that the Medora plant is online, what does the future hold? What are some of Archaea’s priorities over the next 12 months and beyond?  

SS: We plan to bring online around 15 RNG plants in each of 2024 and 2025. Archaea has a development pipeline of more than 80 projects that underpin the potential for around five-fold growth in RNG production by 2030.

We will continue to operate around 50 sites across the US – including RNG plants, digesters and landfill gas-to-electric facilities.

And we are looking to the future. For example, at our Assai plant in Pennsylvania, the largest RNG plant in the US, we are in the planning stages to drill a carbon capture sequestration (CCS) appraisal well to determine if carbon dioxide sequestration could be feasible at this site, really demonstrating our commitment to decarbonization and the optionality in value we have across our portfolio.

HETI: bp has had an office in Washington, DC for many years. Can you tell us more about the role that legislation has to play in the energy transition? 

SS: Policy can play a critical role in advancing the energy transition, providing the necessary support to accelerate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We actively advocate for such policies through direct lobbying, formal comments and testimony, communications activities and advertising. We also advocate with regulators to help inform their rulemakings, as with the US Environmental Protection Agency to support the finalization of a well-designed electric Renewable Identification Number (eRIN) program.

HETI: Science and innovation are key drivers of the energy transition. In your view, what are some of most exciting innovations supporting the goal to reach net-zero emissions?  

SS: We don’t just talk about innovation in bp, we do it – and have been for many years. This track record gives us confidence in continuing to transform, change and innovate at pace and scale. The Archaea Modular Design is a great example of the type of innovation that bp supports which enables us to pursue our goal of net-zero emissions.

Beyond Archaea, we have engineers and scientists across bp who are working on innovative solutions with the goal of lowering emissions. We believe that we need to invest in lower carbon energy to meet the world’s climate objectives, but we also need to invest in today’s energy system, which is primarily hydrocarbon focused. It’s an ‘and’ not ‘or’ approach, and we need both to be successful.

Learn more about Archaea and the work they are doing in energy transition.


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.