Houston-based energy technology company SLB has rolled out two new tools for the energy transition. Photo via slb.com

Houston-based energy technology company SLB has rolled out two new tools — one for evaluating sites for carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) and the other for measuring methane levels.

SLB (Schlumberger) says the screening and ranking technology can help developers pinpoint ideal CCUS locations during the site selection process. The company says this tool helps simplify “a complex and multifaceted process.”

“CCUS is one of the most immediate opportunities to reduce emissions, but it must scale up by 100 to 200 times in less than three decades to have the expected impact on global net zero ambitions,” says Frederik Majkut, senior vice president of carbon solutions at SLB. “Ensuring that a storage site is both safer and economical is crucial for the speed, scale, and investment needed to meaningfully drive CCUS growth for a low-carbon energy ecosystem.”

The tool crunches data to identify the potential capabilities, economic viability, and risks of developing a CCUS project. The technology already has been used in Trinidad and Tobago, a two-island Caribbean country, to screen and rank possible CCUS sites.

“Using industry-leading and proprietary technologies and workflows, we provide a consistent and reliable method for screening and ranking potential storage sites, including an assessment of the risk, to ensure economic feasibility and long-term reliability,” SLB says on its website.

SLB unveiled the technology at the ADIPEC energy conference in the United Arab Emirates.

Prospective sites for CCUS projects include oil reservoirs, gas reservoirs, salt caves, and shale formations. More than 500 CCUS projects are in various stages of development around the world, according to the International Energy Agency.

Texas is poised to become a major player in the CCUS movement, with Houston set to serve as a hub for CCUS activity. Next March, Houston is hosting a major CCUS conference at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Sponsors of the event are the Society of Petroleum Engineers, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

The other tool released by SLB measures methane levels. Specifically, it’s a self-installed methane monitoring system that relies on sensors to detect, locate and assess emissions across oil and gas operations. Methane represents about half of the emissions from these operations.

“The technology automates continuous methane monitoring — eliminating the need for manual data collection during typical intermittent site visits, which only offers producers a small sample of their emissions,” says SLB.

The new joint venture, OneSubsea, is based in Oslo, Norway, and Houston. Photo courtesy

Houston company closes offshore JV deal to drive innovation, efficiency in subsea production

teaming up

A new joint venture with co-headquarters in Houston will explore opportunities in the market for subsea systems that tap into offshore energy reserves.

The business, called OneSubsea, is a joint venture of Houston-based energy technology company SLB (Schlumberger), Norwegian energy engineering company Aker Solutions, and Luxembourg-based energy engineering company Subsea7. SLB holds a 70 percent stake in OneSubsea, with Aker’s share at 20 percent and Subsea7’s share at 10 percent.

The financial foundation of the joint venture is a combination of $700.5 million in stock, cash, and a promissory note. In addition, SLB and Aker folded their subsea businesses into the joint venture, which was announced in 2022.

“As demand grows for cost-effective, efficient, and sustainable energy,” the joint venture says, “a large portion of the corresponding supply increase will come from offshore developments resulting in strong deepwater activity … and the need for innovative subsea solutions.”

OneSubsea is based in Oslo, Norway, and Houston.

As Aker explains, a subsea system “provides a way to produce hydrocarbons from areas not economically or easily developed by the use of an offshore platform.” The system’s ocean-floor components are connected to subsea pipelines, riser systems, and other equipment.

Hydrocarbons are the key components of oil and natural gas.

“The offshore market is demonstrating a sustained resurgence as operators across the world look to accelerate development cycle times and increase the productivity of their offshore assets,” says Olivier Le Peuch, CEO of SLB.

Mads Hjelmeland is the newly appointed CEO of OneSubsea, which employs about 11,000 people around the world.

“OneSubsea’s extensive technology portfolio and engineering expertise enable us to address future market trends and needs at a unique scale. In doing so, we aim to fulfil our purpose of expanding the frontiers of subsea to drive a sustainable energy future,” says Hjelmeland, who is based in Houston.

Hjelmeland’s tenure with the previous iteration of OneSubsea began in 2014. That’s a year after SLB and Cameron, a supplier of equipment, systems and services for the oil and gas industry, formed a joint venture known as OneSubsea to serve the subsea oil and gas market. SLB owned a 40 percent stake in OneSubsea, and Cameron owned a 60 percent stake.

To establish OneSubsea, Cameron contributed its subsea business, and SLB pitched in a $600 million payment to Cameron along with several business units.

In 2016, SLB acquired Cameron in a cash-and-stock deal initially valued at $14.8 billion. OneSubsea then became a subsidiary of SLB, and that subsidiary is now part of the newly reconfigured OneSubsea.

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Chevron, TotalEnergies back energy storage startup's $15.8M series A

money moves

A California startup that's revolutionizing polymer cathode battery technology has announced its series A round of funding with support from Houston-based energy transition leaders.

LiNova Energy Inc. closed a $15.8 million series A round led by Catalus Capital. Saft, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies, which has its US HQ in Houston, and Houston-based Chevron Technology Ventures, also participated in the round with a coalition of other investors.

LiNova will use the funds with its polymer cathode battery to advance the energy storage landscape, according to the company. The company uses a high-energy polymer battery technology that is designed to allow material replacement of the traditional cathode that is made up of cobalt, nickel, and other materials.

The joint development agreement with Saft will have them collaborate to develop the battery technology for commercialization in Saft's key markets.

“We are proud to collaborate with LiNova in scaling up its technology, leveraging the extensive experience of Saft's research teams, our newest prototype lines, and our industrial expertise in battery cell production," Cedric Duclos, CEO of Saft, says in a news release.

CTV recently announced its $500 million Future Energy Fund III, which aims to lead on emerging mobility, energy decentralization, industrial decarbonization, and the growing circular economy. Chevron has promised to spend $10 billion on lower carbon energy investments and projects by 2028.

Houston innovation leaders secure SBA funding to start equitability-focused energy lab

trying for DEI

A group of Houston's innovation and energy leaders teamed up to establish an initiative supporting equitability in the energy transition.

Impact Hub Houston, a nonprofit incubator and ecosystem builder, partnered with Energy Tech Nexus to establish the Equitable Energy Transition Alliance and Lab to accelerate startup pilots for underserved communities. The initiative announced that it's won the 2024 U.S. Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, or GAFC, Stage One award.

"We are incredibly honored to be recognized by the SBA alongside our esteemed partners at Energy Tech Nexus," Grace Rodriguez, co-founder and executive director of Impact Hub Houston, says in a news release. "This award validates our shared commitment to building a robust innovation ecosystem in Houston, especially for solutions that advance the Sustainable Development Goals at the critical intersections of industry, innovation, sustainability, and reducing inequality."

The GAFC award, which honors and supports small business research and development, provides $50,000 prize to its winners. The Houston collaboration aligns with the program's theme area of Sustainability and Biotechnology.

“This award offers us a great opportunity to amplify the innovations of Houston’s clean energy and decarbonization pioneers,” adds Juliana Garaizar, founding partner of the Energy Tech Nexus. “By combining Impact Hub Houston’s entrepreneurial resources with Energy Tech Nexus’ deep industry expertise, we can create a truly transformative force for positive change.”

Per the release, Impact Hub Houston and Energy Tech Nexus will use the funding to recruit new partners, strengthen existing alliances, and host impactful events and programs to help sustainable startups access pilots, contracts, and capital to grow.

"SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Stage One winners join the SBA’s incredible network of entrepreneurial support organizations contributing to America’s innovative startup ecosystem, ensuring the next generation of science and technology-based innovations scale into thriving businesses," says U.S. SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Texas-based Tesla gets China's initial approval of self-driving software

global greenlight

Shares of Tesla stock rallied Monday after the electric vehicle maker's CEO, Elon Musk, paid a surprise visit to Beijing over the weekend and reportedly won tentative approval for its driving software.

Musk met with a senior government official in the Chinese capital Sunday, just as the nation’s carmakers are showing off their latest electric vehicle models at the Beijing auto show.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter, Chinese officials told Tesla that Beijing has tentatively approved the automaker's plan to launch its “Full Self-Driving,” or FSD, software feature in the country.

Although it's called FSD, the software still requires human supervision. On Friday the U.S. government’s auto safety agency said it is investigating whether last year’s recall of Tesla’s Autopilot driving system did enough to make sure drivers pay attention to the road. Tesla has reported 20 more crashes involving Autopilot since the recall, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In afternoon trading, shares in Tesla Inc., which is based in Austin, Texas, surged to end Monday up more than 15% — its biggest one-day jump since February 2020. For the year to date, shares are still down 22%.

Tesla has been contending with its stock slide and slowing production. Last week, the company said its first-quarter net income plunged by more than half, but it touted a newer, cheaper car and a fully autonomous robotaxi as catalysts for future growth.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the news about the Chinese approval a “home run” for Tesla and maintained his “Outperform” rating on the stock.

“We note Tesla has stored all data collected by its Chinese fleet in Shanghai since 2021 as required by regulators in Beijing,” Ives wrote in a note to investors. “If Musk is able to obtain approval from Beijing to transfer data collected in China abroad this would be pivotal around the acceleration of training its algorithms for its autonomous technology globally.”