Weatherford and Honeywell announced the partnership that will combine Honeywell's emissions management suite with Weatherford's technology. Photo via Getty Images

Two major corporations have teamed up to provide a comprehensive emissions management solution that should have an impact on the energy transition.

Houston-based Weatherford and North Carolina-based Honeywell, which has a significant presence in Houston, announced the partnership that will combine Honeywell's emissions management suite with Weatherford's Cygnet SCADA platform.

Customers will be able to use the new tool "to monitor, report, and take measures to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, flammable hydrocarbons, and other potentially dangerous and toxic gases," per a news release.

"Through this collaboration with Honeywell, we have built an alliance that further bridges the gap between technological excellence and environmental stewardship," Girish Saligram, president and CEO of Weatherford, says in the release. "Together, our transformative offering provides cutting-edge tools and actionable data to help customers reach their sustainability goals with confidence and efficiency."

The combined platform will provide upstream oil and gas operators a way to access emissions data in near real-time to better make business decisions on potential issues and meeting regulatory requirements. Additionally, the software should equip users with ways to improve efforts to reach environmental goals.

Honeywell's partnership with Weatherford highlights the importance of empowering organizations with solutions that can help quantify and reduce emissions within the energy industry," Pramesh Maheshwari, president of Honeywell Process Solutions, adds. "By integrating our emissions management solution with Weatherford's well lifecycle technology, our customers can now accurately set targets and monitor near real-time progress on their path to net-zero."

Last fall, a Houston-based unit of industrial conglomerate Honeywell unveiled a gas meter capable of measuring both hydrogen and natural gas. Honeywell’s European launch follows a Dutch test of the EI5 smart gas meter, which the company touts as the world’s first commercially available hydrogen-ready gas meter.

A Houston-based SPAC run by the former Weatherford CEO has agreed to merge with a company that's sustainably producing a material required by several energy transition technologies. Photo via Getty Images

Former Houston energy services CEO's SPAC announces $700M merger with energy transition materials company

M&A moves

Houston-based Pyrophyte Acquisition Corp., a “blank check” SPAC, plans to merge with Canadian quartz silica producer Sio Silica Corp. in a deal valued at more than $700 million.

The companies say the deal carries an enterprise value of $708 million and an equity value of $758 million.

Sio is sitting on a potential supply of 15.2 billion metric tons of high-purity quartz silica, a material needed to produce energy transition technologies such as photovoltaics, solar panels, semiconductors, batteries, and other electronics. Proceeds from the merger will be earmarked for construction of the first phase of Sio’s silica extraction and processing facility near Winnipeg, Manitoba.

“We searched long and hard for the right candidate to combine with Pyrophyte and its energy transition mission. Sio fulfilled all our criteria,” Bernard Duroc-Danner, chairman of Pyrophyte, says in a news release. “We are proud to join Sio on its journey to supply what is becoming in many countries around the world one of the most important strategic minerals for the world’s energy transition.”

In 2021, Pyrophyte’s stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in an IPO valued at $201.25 million. Since then, it’s solely been a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) without any business operations. Typically, a SPAC aims to acquire or merge with a private company that boasts a promising business model.

Duroc-Danner is former chairman, president, and CEO of Houston-based oilfield equipment and services company Weatherford International Ltd.

Calgary, Alberta-based Sio says high-purity quartz silica will represent a $30 billion global market opportunity by 2030. Among the products that rely on silica are semiconductors, solar panels, photovoltaic (solar) cells, optical fibers, and batteries.

Once the deal closes, the combined company will operate as Sio Silica Inc., whose stock will be traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Sio’s CEO, Feisal Somji, will lead the newly formed company.

The deal has been approved by Sio’s and Pyrophyte’s boards but still must be endorsed by the companies’ shareholders.

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Houston's energy industry deemed both a strength and weakness on global cities report

mixed reviews

A new analysis positions the Energy Capital of the World as an economic dynamo, albeit a flawed one.

The recently released Oxford Economics Global Cities Index, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the world’s 1,000 largest cities, puts Houston at No. 25.

Houston ranks well for economics (No. 15) and human capital (No. 18), but ranks poorly for governance (No. 184), environment (No. 271), and quality of life (No. 298).

New York City appears at No. 1 on the index, followed by London; San Jose, California; Tokyo; and Paris. Dallas lands at No. 18 and Austin at No. 39.

In its Global Cities Index report, Oxford Economics says Houston’s status as “an international and vertically integrated hub for the oil and gas sector makes it an economic powerhouse. Most aspects of the industry — downstream, midstream, and upstream — are managed from here, including the major fuel refining and petrochemicals sectors.”

“And although the city has notable aerospace and logistics sectors and has diversified into other areas such as biomedical research and tech, its fortunes remain very much tied to oil and gas,” the report adds. “As such, its economic stability and growth lag other leading cities in the index.”

The report points out that Houston ranks highly in the human capital category thanks to the large number of corporate headquarters in the region. The Houston area is home to the headquarters of 26 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Sysco.

Another contributor to Houston’s human capital ranking, the report says, is the presence of Rice University, the University of Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

“Despite this,” says the report, “it lacks the number of world-leading universities that other cities have, and only performs moderately in terms of the educational attainment of its residents.”

Slower-than-expected population growth and an aging population weaken Houston’s human capital score, the report says.

Meanwhile, Houston’s score for quality is life is hurt by a high level of income inequality, along with a low life expectancy compared with nearly half the 1,000 cities on the list, says the report.

Also in the quality-of-life bucket, the report underscores the region’s variety of arts, cultural, and recreational activities. But that’s offset by urban sprawl, traffic congestion, an underdeveloped public transportation system, decreased air quality, and high carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the report downgrades Houston’s environmental stature due to the risks of hurricanes and flooding.

“Undoubtedly, Houston is a leading business [center] that plays a key role in supporting the U.S. economy,” says the report, “but given its shortcomings in other categories, it will need to follow the path of some of its more well-rounded peers in order to move up in the rankings.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

New collaboration to build data center microgrid in Houston

coming soon

Two companies are teaming up to build a natural gas microgrid in Houston that will reduce emissions by 98 percent.

Provider of prime and backup power solutions RPower has teamed up with Houston’s ViVaVerse Solutions to build a 17-megawatt (MW) microgrid at the ViVa Center campus in Houston, which is expected to be commissioned by the end of the year.

The microgrid plans to employ ultra-low emissions and natural gas generators to deliver Resiliency-as-a-Service (RaaS), and this will connect to ViVaVerse's colocation data center operations during utility outages.

RPower will also deploy the microgrid across different ERCOT market programs, which will contribute to assist with essential capacity and ancillary services for the local grid. ERCOT has increased its use of renewable energy in recent years, but still has faced criticism for unstable conditions. The microgrids can potentially assist ERCOT, and also help cut back on emissions.

“RPower's pioneering microgrid will not only deliver essential N+1 resiliency to our data center operations but will also contribute to the local community by supplying necessary capacity during peak demand periods when the electric grid is strained,” Eduardo Morales, CEO of ViVaVerse Solutions and Morales Capital Group, says in a news release.

ViVaVerse Solutions will be converting the former Compaq Computer/HPE headquarters Campus into an innovative technology hub called the ViVa Center, which will host the High-Performance Computing Data Center, and spaces dedicated to mission critical infrastructure and technical facilities . The hub will host 200 data labs.

“We are thrilled to partner with ViVaVerse to deploy this `first of its kind' microgrid solution in the data center space,” Jeff Starcher, CEO of RPower, adds. “Our natural gas backup generation system delivers the same reliability and performance as traditional diesel systems, but with a 98 percent reduction in emissions. Further, the RPower system provides critical grid services and will respond to the volatility of renewable generation, further enabling the energy transition to a carbon free future.”