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OTC names Houston professionals to 2024 class of emerging leaders

big winners

Nine people with ties to the Houston area have been named emerging leaders in the energy industry by the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC).

OTC’s annual Emerging Leaders program recognizes professionals with less than 10 years of experience in the offshore energy sector.

“This year's recipients embody the essence of what it means to be a young professional,” Alex Martinez, chair of the OTC board, says in a news release.

“Their commitment to excellence, relentless pursuit of knowledge, and unwavering passion for their work have set them apart. They have not only excelled in their field but have also shown remarkable leadership qualities, inspiring those around them to push beyond boundaries and explore new horizons.”

The 2024 honorees were recognized May 7 during an OTC ceremony at NRG Center. This year’s honorees with ties to the Houston area are:

  • Rebecca Caldwell, an exploration geologist at Chevron.
  • Jinbo Chen, associate professor in the School of Naval Architecture Ocean and Civil Engineering at China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China. He is a former staff drilling engineer at Houston-based Shell USA.
  • Pankaj Goel, a projects adviser at Spring-based ExxonMobil.
  • Mejdi Kammoun, a principal engineer at the Houston-based American Bureau of Shipping.
  • Mathilde Luycx, a petrophysicist for the technology and engineering business of Spring-based ExxonMobil.
  • J. Michael Renning, an engineer at the Houston-based American Bureau of Shipping.
  • Jian “Jason” Shi, an assistant professor of engineering technology, electrical engineering, and computer engineering at the University of Houston.
  • Yan Wang, an advanced technology development engineer for the technology and engineering business of Spring-based ExxonMobil.
  • Luz Zarate, a marine technology research engineer at Houston-based Shell International Exploration and Production.

In a UH news release, Shi explains that his research centers on safety concerns associated with energy transition in the industry’s offshore sector.

Shi hopes his work helps share a future “where our world is powered by an abundance of innovative energy sources, where technology coexists harmoniously with nature, and where humanity embarks on bold adventures into uncharted territory.”

Work done by Kammoun, a UH alumnus, at the American Bureau of Shipping zeroes in on developing marine and offshore safety regulations and requirements for shipping of energy storage and generation systems.

“My aspirations have always centered around contributing to a safer, greener world,” Kammoun says. “Whether through innovative technologies, sustainable practices or policy advocacy, my dream remains unwavering: to leave a lasting positive impact on our planet.”

Houston energy transition growth capital firm closes $1.5B fund

A Houston-based energy transition-focused growth capital firm announced the close of its second fund to the tune of $1.5 billion.

EnCap Energy Transition's Fund II, or EETF II, was created to invest in solutions to decarbonize the power industry, and invest in low carbon fuels and carbon management.This second energy transition fund follows EnCap Energy Transition Fund I, a $1.2 billion fund that deployed capital to seven material portfolio company investments and four fund realizations with Broad Reach Power, Jupiter Power, Triple Oak, and Paloma Solar & Wind.

Previously, the company made investment commitments to five portfolio companies through EETF II, including Bildmore Renewables, Linea Energy, Parliament Solar, Power Transitions, and Arbor Renewable Gas. With the Bildmore arm, the EnCap fund aims to fuel development of renewable energy projects that can’t attract traditional tax equity financing.

EnCap expects to have 8-10 portfolio companies in EETF II in total.

"The EnCap Energy Transition team is proud to have raised a sizeable pool of capital to continue to invest in the opportunity created by the shift to a lower-carbon energy system,” EnCap Energy Transition Managing Partner Jim Hughes says in a news release.

“We greatly appreciate the strong support from our existing investor base and are pleased to have added a number of new, high-quality investors, both domestically and internationally," he continues. "Since our inception in 2019, we now manage approximately $2.7 billion of capital commitments to invest in decarbonization and are excited for the opportunities ahead of us."

Recently,EnCap was part of a deal in the battery energy storage business carrying an equity value of more than $1 billion. Engie purchased the majority of a startup . Broad Reach’s battery storage business from EnCap Energy Transition Fund I. Broad Reach launched in 2019 with backing from EnCap.

“We continue to believe all sources of energy are needed to support the world’s growing energy needs and that our Energy Transition Team will build off the significant success achieved to date,” said EnCap Managing Partner Jason DeLorenzo in a news release.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Key takeaways from HETI's Climate Equity Report

The view from heti

The mission of the Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI) is to drive sustainable and equitable economic growth for an energy-abundant, low-carbon future in the greater Houston region.

Community engagement will play a key role in ensuring the environmental and economic benefits of the energy transition flow to all members of Greater Houston. This requires a shared understanding of concerns, values, and goals.

“As we make this transition to a lower-carbon energy future, we’re doing it in a way that creates economic opportunity for all Houstonians,” said Jane Stricker, Senior Vice President, Energy Transition and Executive Director of HETI. “When we think about what role community plays in that work, HETI is supported by industry leaders and a community advisory board to ensure that as this work moves forward, it moves forward in a way that benefits everyone.”

HETI recently collaborated with the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), Sallie Greenberg Consulting (SGC), energy companies with a presence in the region, and impacted community organization stakeholders and leaders to develop a baseline understanding of current corporate climate action, community needs, and preferred methods of engagement.

“We engaged HARC and SGC to help us to explore the intersection of the energy transition and community engagement,” said Stricker. “They helped us create a collaborative framework to support both companies and communities in advancing solutions for an equitable energy transition. The team has done a truly outstanding job to develop this report and framework.”

The Climate Equity Report, which includes the Framework for an Equitable Energy Transition and the Community Engagement Toolkit for an Equitable Energy Transition, was developed to help foster positive, two-way communication and engagement between Houston-area energy companies and the communities they impact. The Framework and Toolkit are based on in-depth research and interviews — with the aim of bridging the gap between corporate climate action, community engagement, and the federal government’s approach to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

“We have the opportunity to reassess how we approach these very important issues,” said John Hall, President and CEO of HARC. “Community members are not just interested in talking and becoming acquainted with the industry — they want to engage in constructive dialogue with the aim of delivering meaningful benefits that will improve the quality of their lives and those of their neighbors.”

“What I see for the first time in the 25 years that I’ve been working in this space is that we have a significant opportunity—right now—to change how we work in communities, how we work with communities, and how we can enter in a partnership to be able to drive equitable energy transition activities forward,” said Dr. Sallie Greenberg, Scientist, Strategic Advisor, and Engagement Specialist at Sallie Greenberg Consulting.

Findings from the Climate Equity Report highlight best practices and strategies to improve relationships, build trust, and address concerns. Ten key findings include:

  • Basic needs
    Helping the community address basic needs and reduce existing risks can reduce barriers to participation and improve community member engagement around the energy transition.
  • Equity considerations
    Equity considerations are growing increasingly important. Communities are looking for authentic processes that include community input on the highest-priority challenges.
  • Two-way engagement
    Successful two-way engagement requires information to flow in both directions. Authentic, targeted community engagement will be a key enabler of climate equity and decarbonization in Houston.
  • Transparency
    As energy companies seek to broaden engagement efforts, transparency is key. Project information must be as transparent and available as possible.
  • Trust flow
    There is a gap between company and community perceptions of engagement largely based on a “trust deficit” that will take time to address.
  • Engagement frequency
    Engagement alone isn’t enough. Consistent, frequent, organic engagement is required to build trust and overcome the “trust deficit” between energy companies and communities.
  • Accountability
    Impacts can be tangible and intangible. Community engagement work must be evaluated using a data-driven approach that measures how engagement activities address inequalities and benefit impacted groups.
  • Shifting priorities
    The type of engagement the community and the federal government wants and expects has changed. Companies must address this change to ensure community needs are acknowledged and met.
  • Stakeholder identification
    Not all stakeholders have the same voice or level of influence. Truly equitable engagement requires the inclusion of marginalized groups, especially those in frontline communities.
  • Program evaluation
    The evaluation process helps companies determine if engagement goals are being met. This includes conducting observations, surveys, and interviews throughout the evaluation process before sharing results with stakeholders and making program improvements based on the collected information.

Read the full report here. Watch the Connect on Climate Equity webinar.

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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.