The facility will provide hundreds of jobs with an expected daily output of up to 3,000 barrels per stream that uses both renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel. Photo via Getty Images

A Houston company that's working on a major alternative energy facility in Texas has named two new partners on the project.

Santa Maria Renewable Resources has selected Topsoe as its technology provider, and executed license and engineering agreements, as well as partnered with an engineering firm for its East Texas facility.

The licenses encompass innovations like HydroflexTM and H2bridgeTM technologies. Topsoe’s HydroFlex process layout combined with the H2bridge lower carbon intensity of renewable fuels , and offers greenhouse gas emission savings. The process is part of a sustainable agriculture project currently in development by SMRR in East Texas.

The facility will provide 600 to 700 construction jobs and 300-plus permanent operating employment positions with an expected daily output of up to 3,000 barrels per stream that uses both renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel. The demand for RD and SAF grows,and the aviation industry aims to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

SMRR has also partnered with Chemex Global to commence the front-end engineering design for the facility in East Texas.

“The collaboration with Topsoe and Chemex Global marks a significant company milestone, amplifying the potential of our project,” says Pat Sanchez, founder and CEO of SMRR, in a news release. “The incorporation of these licenses, complemented by tailored engineering insights from both organizations will seamlessly integrate into our ongoing front end engineering design. We’re pleased to collaborate with these industry experts ensuring the smooth progression on this project.”

SMRR is a vertically integrated renewable energy, and biobased production developer.

The facility is expected to produce approximately 7 million gallons of renewable gasoline and sequester over 100,000 metric tons of CO2 a year by 2027. Photo via verdecleanfuels.com

Houston company to build renewable gasoline production facility in California

green fuels

A Houston company has announced a new agreement to construct a renewable gasoline production facility on the West Coast. Once up and running, the site is expected to produce approximately 7 million gallons of renewable gasoline and sequester over 100,000 metric tons of CO2 a year by 2027.

Houston-based Verde Clean Fuels (Nasdaq: VGAS), which specializes in fuel production from renewable feedstocks or natural gas, shared earlier this month that it has entered into an agreement to build a gasoline production facility that will use sequestered carbon dioxide to produce about 21,000 gallons per day of renewable gasoline, according to a news release.

The Carbon Dioxide Management Agreement, or CDMA, is between Verde and a joint venture company called Carbon TerraVault, a subsidiary of California Resources Corp. (NYSE: CRC) and Brookfield Renewable (NYSE: BEP). The facility will be built at CRC’s existing Net Zero Industrial Park in Kern County, California. The agreement provides Verde 50 acres of leased space for the facility at CRC’s Net Zero Industrial Park at Elk Hills field on which to construct its facility.

“Traditional gasoline used today is refined from crude oil and makes up over half of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the U.S. transportation sector, the largest contributor to GHG emissions,” Ernest Miller, CEO of Verde, says in the release. “We believe our proprietary technology and scientific approach will further enable California’s consumers of gasoline to seamlessly and materially participate in the critical decarbonization of our atmosphere and help achieve California’s climate goals.

"Our partnership with CTV marks a significant step towards fulfilling our domestic growth ambitions and represents a concrete pathway to decarbonizing the transportation sector," he continues. "By teaming up with the leading carbon management business in the U.S., we are poised to make a substantial impact.”

According to the release, the impact of the production of 21,000 gallons per day of renewable gasoline is equivalent to removing around 22,000 cars off the road.

“Doubling the CO2 storage opportunities under CDMAs at our Net Zero Industrial Park at Elk Hills in a matter of eight months further underscores CRC’s carbon management strategy and dedication to energy transition in California,” Francisco Leon, CRC’s President and CEO, says in the release. “This new agreement between CTV JV and Verde Clean Fuels provides an innovative approach to renewable fuels at the heart of energy development in the state, and further validates CRC’s decarbonization efforts by a publicly traded company looking to expand in California.”

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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.

GOOD AS GOLD

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.”

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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.

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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.