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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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.