Pickering Energy Partners entered into a collaborative partnership with Rick Mauro to support clients in carbon sequestration and methane mitigation efforts. Photo courtesy of Pickering Energy Partners

A Houston-based energy-focused financial services platform has brought onboard an industry veteran to offer a unique insight to its clients.

Pickering Energy Partners announced a collaborative partnership with energy veteran Rick Mauro to further support clients in carbon sequestration and methane mitigation efforts.

PEP ESG Consulting team’s clients will have access to comprehensive strategic and technical consulting services, which will cover a broader spectrum of environmental and sustainability needs according to the company.

Mauro brings energy transition and oil and gas expertise through his career at Halliburton and Mobil Oil. He has hands-on experience in various operational settings like onshore and offshore assets in North America, Australia, Asia Pacific, and Kuwait with his geology background. He also advises client teams at Halliburton subsidiary Landmark Services Line and consulting firm Decision Strategies.

“Rick’s extensive work with constituents across multiple organizational levels, from operations to executive management, brings a versatile and well-informed viewpoint to our projects,” Dan Romito, head of PEP ESG Consulting, says in a news release. “Our goal is to offer energy-focused clients a well-rounded and technically proficient approach to ESG benchmarking and reporting.”

Jason Kivett and Robyn Underwood join Houston-based energy finance firm Pickering Energy Partners. Photo courtesy of PEP

Houston energy financial firm names new execs

new hires

A firm focused on financial services within the energy sector has named two former Barclays investment bankers to its team.

Pickering Energy Partners announced that Jason Kivett and Robyn Underwood will join PEP to lead its traditional Energy Investment Banking Practice as managing directors. The team Kivett and Underwood join focuses on traditional oil and gas and will partner with the existing Renewables and Energy Transition advisory team, per a news release.

"Our clients turn to us for our dedication to the energy sector, and our ability to get deals done," Dan Pickering, chief investment officer of Pickering Energy Partners, says in a news release. “As the industry seeks more innovative financial solutions than ever before, our team is ready to support that demand."

With the expansion of this team, PEP has more than doubled its M&A advisory and capital raising team and its advisers worked on over $100 billion in transactions across corporate mergers, acquisitions, and more.

PEP also announced that Osmar Abib has joined the PEP Advisory Board. He worked over two decades with Credit Suisse and served most recently as the chairman of the Global Energy Group based in Houston and New York.

Another addition to the firm’s expanding investment banking platform, Osmar Abib joins the PEP Advisory Board. Abib provides rich market insights based on his experience as the former Global Head of Energy Investment Banking for Credit Suisse.

“Experience matters and we appreciate the deeply rooted relationships our new team members have developed over their careers,” Walker Moody, president of Pickering Energy Partners, adds in the release. “The PEP Investment Banking team knows energy, and they understand operators. We continue to play offense and bring on talented, experienced professionals to benefit our clients.”

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Houston researcher scores $500,000 award to continue on work on energy transition

zeroing in on zero emissions

A University of Houston professor and research is laser focused on his work within the energy transition, and National Science Foundation has taken note, awarding him over half a million dollars in funding.

Jian Shi, an assistant professor within the Cullen College of Engineering, recently received the NSF's CAREER award, which will dole out $500,861 in funding through February 2029.

The award was granted for his research, entitled “A Unified Zero-Carbon-Driven Design Framework for Accelerating Power Grid Deep Decarbonization.”

“One of the most major challenges inherent in energy transition is the cost. While reducing carbon emissions serves the best interest of society in the long run, the short-term financial burdens also need to be carefully evaluated to ensure that we have a safe, affordable, reliable and just transition for all,” Shi says in a UH news release. “This challenge has inspired me to work on the innovative framework of “ZERO-Accelerator.”

Shi's ZERO-Accelerator is focused on taking standard carbon-driven tools and integrating them into current power grid operational practices. Shi is the director and founder of SOAR, or the Smart and ZerO-Carbon Energy Analytics and Research Lab.

“It synthesizes interactions from multiple key stakeholders involved in the electricity ecosystem,” says Shi. “The framework considers how to manage carbon allowance allocation and trading for electricity producers, how to maintain a 24/7 zero-carbon power grid for power grid operators and how to enable consumers to understand their carbon footprint and participate in the zero-carbon grid operation.”

In his CAREER proposal, Shi explains that he is also contributing to training the future energy workforce. He adds that he shares this award with his colleagues.

“I believe no accomplishment is truly individual,” he says. “Rather, it is a collective triumph achieved through collaboration, support and shared dedication. As I reflect on the milestones I've reached, I am compelled to express my deepest gratitude to my esteemed colleagues whose unwavering commitment has been instrumental in not just my collective success, but our collective success as well."

Last summer, Shi mentored a UH team in the inaugural American-Made Carbon Management Collegiate Competition, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. The team, GreenHouston, took third place in the competition, securing a $5,000 cash prize.

Rice-led project receives $1.9M in federal funding to test 5G energy efficiency, more

fresh support

A team of Rice University engineers has secured a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration to develop a new way to test 5G networks.

The project will focus on testing 5G networks for software-centric architectures, according to a statement from Rice. The funds come from the NTIA's most recent round of grants, totaling about $80 million, as part of the $1.5 billion Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund. Other awards went to Virginia Tech, Northeastern University, DISH Wireless, and more.

The project at Rice will be led by Rahman Doost-Mohammady, an assistant research professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Ashutosh Sabharwal, the Ernest Dell Butcher Professor of Engineering and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Santiago Segarra, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and an expert in machine learning for wireless network design, is also a co-principal investigator on this project.

"Current testing methodologies for wireless products have predominantly focused on the communication dimension, evaluating aspects such as load testing and channel emulation,” said Doost-Mohammady said in a statement. “But with the escalating trend toward software-based wireless products, it’s imperative that we take a more holistic approach to testing."

The new framework will be used to "assess the stability, interoperability, energy efficiency and communication performance of software-based machine learning-enabled 5G radio access networks (RANs)," according to Rice, known as ETHOS.

Once created, the team of researchers will use the framework for extensive testing using novel machine learning algorithms for 5G RAN with California-based NVIDIA's Aerial Research Cloud (ARC) platform. The team also plans to partner with other industry contacts in the future, according to Rice.

“The broader impacts of this project are far-reaching, with the potential to revolutionize software-based and machine learning-enabled wireless product testing by making it more comprehensive and responsive to the complexities of real-world network environments,” Sabharwal said in the statement. “By providing the industry with advanced tools to evaluate and ensure the stability, energy efficiency and throughput of their products, our research is poised to contribute to the successful deployment of 5G and beyond wireless networks.”

Late last year, the Houston location of Greentown Labs also landed funds from the Department of Commerce. The climatetech startup incubator was named to of the Economic Development Administration's 10th cohort of its Build to Scale program and will receive $400,000 with a $400,000 local match confirmed.

Houston-based nonprofit accelerator, BioWell, also received funding from the Build to Scale program.


This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

DOE taps 3 Houston-area schools for student competition

game on

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions selected 225 teams from 117 schools from 39 states — including three Houston-area universities — to participate in its annual startup competition.

University of Houston, Rice University, and Texas A&M University will compete in the EnergyTech University Prize, known as EnergyTech UP, in the 2024 Student Track. See the full list here.

The EnergyTech UP Student Track tasks collegiate teams to develop “actionable plans for business and commercialization opportunities around high-potential energy technologies.”

The competitors in the event, which is in its third year, will also receive free access to OTT’s Energy I-Corps curriculum. Finalists will receive mentorship from industry leaders on their proposals. Through three phases — Explore, Refine, and Pitch — with Bonus Prize winners also being selected along the way, the teams will compete for more than $400,000 in cash prizes.

Teams will present their proposals to a panel of judges in the hopes of being selected as a finalist in the first phase, the regional Explore Event.

Finalists will refine their ideas before pitching their complete plans at Zpryme’s 2024 Energy Thought Summit in April in Austin, Texas. The goal is for EnergyTech UP’s winning teams to have successfully identified promising energy technology, carefully assess its market potential, and create a business plan.

“We see immense value in supporting the next generation of clean energy leaders through EnergyTech UP” said DOE Chief Commercialization Officer and Director of OTT, Dr. Vanessa Z. Chan in a news release. “These teams are working to develop attainable, equitable, scalable energy technologies and business opportunities. They have the potential to profoundly impact the cleantech industry, and we’re proud to provide resources that can help bolster their ideas.”

Other Texas universities selected this year include:

  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • The University of Texas at El Paso
  • Texas Tech University