Exxon's power play
PLUS: Heirloom DAC, BKV-EnLink CCS, Total's $635mm buy, NuScale cancels project, Venture Global disputes, Niron Magnetics
ExxonMobil plans to become a leading producer of lithium, a key component of electric vehicle (EV) batteries.
The company has initiated the first phase of North America lithium production in southwest Arkansas, known for significant lithium deposits, and will brand the product as "Mobil Lithium."
ExxonMobil aims to unlock North American lithium supplies with fewer environmental impacts by using direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology, which involves accessing lithium-rich saltwater from underground reservoirs using conventional drilling methods.
The DLE process produces fewer carbon emissions than traditional mining and requires less land.
ExxonMobil acquired rights to 120,000 acres of lithium-rich land in southern Arkansas in early 2023.
The company targets its first lithium production by 2027 and aims to supply the manufacturing needs of over a million EVs per year by 2030.
Demand for lithium is expected to quadruple by 2030, and ExxonMobil's project supports energy transition goals and domestic sourcing.
ExxonMobil is in discussions with potential customers, including EV and battery manufacturers.
Heirloom has unveiled the United States' first commercial Direct Air Capture (DAC) facility, aiming to mitigate the impacts of global climate change.
The DAC facility is located in Tracy, California, and uses limestone rocks to capture and permanently sequester CO2 from the atmosphere.
The facility is fully powered by renewable energy and constructed with union labor.
It has a capture capacity of up to 1,000 tons of CO2 per year and will provide CO2 removal credits to companies like Microsoft, Stripe, Shopify, and Klarna.
The DAC facility aligns with President Biden's 2050 net-zero goal and California Governor Gavin Newsom's 2045 state net-zero targets.
Heirloom's technology uses abundant limestone to capture CO2 from the air and sequester it underground or in concrete.
The company aims to remove 1 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2035.
The facility was constructed with a commitment not to use removed CO2 for enhanced oil recovery and to involve union labor.
Heirloom has also established a community governance model to gather feedback and provide investments in community organizations.
Heirloom's progress has accelerated since its founding in 2020, with significant investments and partnerships in the field of carbon removal.
Notable attendees at the unveiling ceremony included Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Koulanakis, and other community leaders and officials.
BKV Corporation and EnLink Midstream commence the first carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project in the Barnett Shale.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) waste from EnLink's Bridgeport natural gas processing plant and neighboring operations is injected into BKV's Barnett Zero CCS facility.
The project is one of the first purpose-drilled, Class II commercial carbon sequestration wells in the United States.
EnLink transports natural gas produced by BKV to its Bridgeport plant, captures the CO2 waste stream, compresses it, and sequesters it underground via BKV's well.
The project aims to sequester up to approximately 210,000 metric tons of CO2e per year.
BKV plans to achieve net-zero Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions from its upstream operations by the early 2030s.
The project is approved by the Texas Railroad Commission and the EPA.
BKV envisions future CCS projects, including Cotton Cove, and is actively pursuing expansion.
Three additional potential natural gas processing projects with a combined forecasted annual sequestration volume of at least approximately 970,000 metric tons per year of captured CO2e are identified.
TotalEnergies is acquiring three gas-fired power plants in Texas from TexGen for $635 million.
The three plants have a combined capacity of 1.5 GW and are connected to ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas), the second largest power market in the United States.
The plants include Wolf Hollow I (745 MW combined-cycle gas turbine), Colorado Bend I (530 MW combined-cycle gas turbine and 74 MW open-cycle gas turbine), and La Porte (150 MW open-cycle gas turbine).
These flexible assets, near Dallas and Houston, will help meet the growing energy demand in these cities and offset renewable power intermittency.
The acquisition complements TotalEnergies' existing renewable capacity in Texas and strengthens its trading capabilities in gas and power markets.
BP, Edison, and Shell have requested intervention from the U.S.-EU Task Force on Energy Security in a dispute with Venture Global LNG over unfulfilled contract supplies of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Shell has urged the task force to require Venture Global LNG to start fulfilling its signed contracts.
At least four customers, including BP and Shell, are pursuing contract arbitration claims due to a lack of gas supplies from Venture Global LNG.
Venture Global LNG cited faulty power equipment repairs as the reason for the Louisiana plant's operational issues.
Shell accused Venture Global LNG of prioritizing a second LNG export plant over completing repairs to the first, which has raised concerns about the trustworthiness of American LNG suppliers.
The EU and U.S. officials view the dispute as a contractual matter between commercial parties and have not taken action to date.
BP and Shell have expressed concerns about Europe's energy security and alleged that Venture Global LNG profited from global gas market rallies while failing to deliver on contracted amounts.
Venture Global LNG stated that it is diligently working toward full completion but did not specify a timeline.
The company claimed that Shell and BP purchased commissioning cargoes and traded them outside of Europe for higher profits.
Repsol's attempt to have the U.S. energy regulator reopen its approval of the Calcasieu plant due to startup problems was rejected.
NuScale Power terminates its small modular reactor (SMR) project in Utah.
The project, known as the Ca
rbon Free Power Project, was approved for $1.35 billion in DOE funding in 2020, with around $600 million provided since 2014 to support SMR technology commercialization.
The plan was to develop a six-reactor, 462 MW project with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) by 2030, but rising costs led to several towns withdrawing from the project.
NuScale intends to continue working on SMR technology for domestic and international markets in Romania, Kazakhstan, Poland, and Ukraine.
The Utah SMR project was expected to be the first to receive a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but insufficient subscriptions made deployment unlikely.
The project's target power price increased from $58 per MWh to $89 per MWh, raising concerns about customer willingness to pay.
DOE remains committed to deploying nuclear technologies to combat climate change despite this setback.
SMRs are seen as replacements for coal plants and are designed for various applications, including remote communities.
NuScale's SMR design is the only one approved by the NRC.
The DOE funding for NuScale was awarded through a non-competitive funding mechanism predating the Biden administration's energy and climate bills.
General Motors (GM) and Stellantis are investing in startup Niron Magnetics to develop electric-vehicle magnets without rare earths.
The goal is to reduce reliance on China for rare earth materials in the automotive industry.
The automakers joined Niron's $33 million funding round to develop permanent magnets without rare earths.
Currently, approximately 90% of rare-earth magnet supply is dependent on China.
The move follows China's announcement of export permits for some graphite products used in EVs.
GM invested $7 million, and Stellantis invested $5 million in Niron.
Permanent magnets are crucial components in EVs, especially in the drivetrain.
EV motors typically use rare-earth minerals like terbium, dysprosium, praseodymium, and neodymium, which are expensive and processed mainly overseas.
Niron believes its iron nitride magnet, branded as a Clean Earth Magnet, is more magnetic than traditional rare earth magnets.
The investment aims to reduce reliance on rare earth minerals and create a North American-based supply chain for EVs.
GM previously had an agreement to buy rare-earth magnets from MP Materials.
Offshore wind projects are being canceled, and renewable energy companies are facing declining share prices.
U.S. automakers are scaling back electric vehicle plans due to faltering demand.
The oil and gas industry is pursuing megadeals and asserting that fossil fuels will remain essential for a long time.
Carbon emissions are expected to reach record levels this year.
Energy-mix forecasts indicate that natural gas, oil, and renewables will all play significant roles until 2050.
Despite challenges, solar and wind capacity is growing, and investments are flowing into low-carbon technologies.
Some companies are shifting investments back into traditional energy assets, such as liquefied natural gas facilities and pipelines.
Macroeconomic factors, including high interest rates and supply chain disruptions, are affecting the clean-energy industry.
Some renewable-power developers have raised prices for electricity and rewritten contracts to cover increased costs.
Challenges in the renewable energy sector have led to share price declines for many companies.
Geopolitical factors and challenges in decarbonization are reducing pressure on fossil fuel companies to transition quickly.
Growing energy needs in Asia and Africa may require continued reliance on traditional energy sources.
Energy giants like Exxon Mobil and Chevron are acquiring oil and gas assets, arguing for their long-term necessity.
Investors are more accepting of such acquisitions compared to a few years ago when there was more pressure for energy transition and climate strategies.
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