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Baker Botts adds NY project finance partner

Baker Botts has hired has hired Veronica Relea from Pillsbury.

Baker Botts L.L.P., an international energy, technology, and life sciences law firm, has hired Veronica Relea to its Energy, Projects & Transactions Section of the Global Projects Department as a partner in the New York office.

Relea has significant experience representing project developers and lenders in highly structured and complex finance transactions in the U.S. and Latin America. She advises commercial and investment banks, sponsors, developers and private equity firms in the development, construction, operation and financing of energy, oil and gas, and infrastructure projects, including LNG projects, fuel storage facilities, renewable energy assets, and mining assets.

She has developed a robust Latin American practice, advising on a range of complex finance transactions and has been recognized by Latinvex annually since 2017 as one of Latin America’s Top 100 Female Lawyers. She is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Portuguese and French.

Relea is the eighth lateral partner to join Baker Botts since early February. The firm most recently welcomed energy finance partner Matthew Gurch in Washington, D.C., and in December welcomed energy and infrastructure partner Mona Dajani in New York.

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Air Products to build commercial-scale hydrogen refueling station in Edmonton

The hydrogen refueling station will be Air Products’ first in Canada and the first commercial-scale hydrogen refueling station in Alberta.

Air Products, the world’s largest producer of hydrogen, plans to build a multi-modal hydrogen refueling station near its new net-zero hydrogen energy complex under construction in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

The hydrogen refueling station will be Air Products’ first in Canada and the first commercial-scale hydrogen refueling station in Alberta. The station plans were announced today at the Canadian Hydrogen Convention during a fireside chat with Eric Guter, Air Products’ Global Vice President, Hydrogen for Mobility.

“This station is the next step in Air Products’ commitment to Edmonton and the province of Alberta and will serve as a model that can be replicated throughout Canada to grow the hydrogen economy, reduce emissions and assist Canada on its path to achieving net-zero by 2050,” said Guter. “Canada is well-positioned to be a leader in the clean energy future, and we are proud to build on Air Products’ investment in Western Canada to help accelerate the use of hydrogen as an emissions-free transportation fuel across the nation.”

The hydrogen refueling station is supported in part by $1 million (CAD) in funding from Natural Resources Canada’s Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program.

The new station will include two hydrogen refueling lanes with dispensers for heavy-duty vehicles such as commercial and municipal trucks, and Air Products’ own truck fleet, with a filling time on par with conventionally fueled heavy-duty trucks. In addition, the station also will have two fueling positions for light-duty hydrogen fuel cell cars. The state-of-the-art, high-capacity, high-efficiency station is scheduled to open in early 2025 and will be available to retail customers. Using proprietary compression technology, the station will have a capacity of up to six tonnes of hydrogen per day. It will be located in Northeast Edmonton near Air Products’ transformative new $1.6bn (CAD) net-zero hydrogen energy complex.

The complex will use an advanced process technology that enables the cost-effective capture of more than 90 percent of carbon emissions for permanent sequestration safely underground. In addition, to avoid the indirect emissions associated with using grid electrical power, the project includes a 100 percent hydrogen-fueled power generation unit. This unit is oversized to power the production facility and supply clean power to the Alberta grid.

The complex also will be integrated with neighboring Imperial Oil Limited’s new renewable diesel facility, using innovative engineering. Imperial will produce renewable diesel from locally sourced non-petroleum feedstocks, using a process that produces a biogenic renewable off-gas (ROG) by-product. This ROG will be used as a feedstock within the Air Products hydrogen complex, displacing natural gas and further enhancing the overall carbon emissions profile. The combination of utilizing a renewable feedstock and power export more than offset the remaining 10 percent needed to achieve net-zero at the new hydrogen production facility.

The net-zero facility will connect to Air Products’ existing 55-kilometer pipeline network in the Alberta Heartland to help refining and petrochemical customers reduce the carbon intensity of their operations and products.

Air Products also has announced plans to open a new project delivery office in Edmonton. The Global Engineering and Manufacturing Technology Equipment office will be a cross-functional space including engineering, product, process gas, and air separation unit product line functions.

Air Products currently operates three hydrogen production facilities in Alberta, and also operates a hydrogen production facility, a 30-kilometer pipeline network and a liquefaction facility in Sarnia, Ontario.

Air Products works across all facets of the hydrogen value chain, including production, distribution, storage and dispensing and has been a pioneer in hydrogen fueling for decades.

The company operates the world’s largest hydrogen pipeline system, located in the U.S. Gulf Coast, and is a world-class liquid hydrogen supplier. Air Products has hands-on operating experience with over 250 hydrogen fueling station projects in 20 countries and the company’s technologies are used in over 1.5 million fueling operations annually.

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HTEC gets CAD 10m in federal funds for hydrogen facility at pulp mill

HTEC’s project will operate a renewable hydrogen production facility at a pulp mill in British Columbia.

HTEC and West Fraser Mills will receive CAD 10m from the Canadian government through a program seeking to facilitate adoption of innovative technologies.

Located in Nanaimo, B.C., HTEC’s project will operate a renewable hydrogen production facility at the Harmac Pacific Pulp Mill, producing clean hydrogen by electrolysis, according to a news release.

HTEC last year secured a CAD 217m investment from Chart Industries and I Squared Capital.

With a CAD 10m contribution through the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program, the hydrogen will be used as clean fuel for transportation and heating, and will help the mill decarbonize its operations. HTEC’s project with Harmac Pacific is an example of how surplus energy from mills can be utilized to lower emissions and advance federal and provincial clean hydrogen goals, according to the release.

“HTEC’s growing network of hydrogen fuelling stations due to the industry demand for low-carbon transportation fuel in Canada has necessitated the development of local hydrogen production,” HTEC CEO Colin Armstrong said in a statement. “We are building multiple clean-hydrogen production facilities across the country, and this Nanaimo-based facility is a critical piece of the clean hydrogen value chain. We are grateful to the Government of Canada for its ongoing support in decarbonizing Canada’s transportation sector, allowing us to expand our retail fuelling network and opening up new market opportunities for heavy-duty transportation applications.”

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8 Rivers opening tech portfolio to Chart Industries

Chart Industries has executed a memorandum of understanding with 8 Rivers Capital evaluate the latter’s portfolio of technologies, according to a news release.

The collaboration includes developing equipment for 8 Rivers’ technologies backed up by Chart’s design and manufacturing capabilities.

”The companies will work together to identify and develop commercial opportunities to integrate Chart offerings into 8 Rivers projects,” the release states.

In March The Hydrogen Source reported that North Carolina-based 8 Rivers was scouting for a location in the US Gulf Coast for its first clean hydrogen production facility and would need to raise capital.

The firm has developed new technologies such as 8RH2, a process to generate hydrogen with full carbon capture, and the Allam-Fetvedt Cycle, a process which helps to generate power from carbon-based fuels without air emissions.

Chart would become one of the suppliers of choice for various liquefaction, refrigeration processes, or liquefaction and refrigeration equipment technologies, cold boxes, heat exchangers, compressors, fans, liquid hydrogen storage tanks and trailers, and other associated equipment needed to implement 8 Rivers’ technologies.

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Exclusive: Biofuels developer interviewing bankers for capital raise

The developer of a renewable diesel and SAF plant in East Texas is seeking a banker for assistance raising development and FID capital.

Santa Maria Renewable Resources, a biofuels developer with a project in East Texas, is interviewing bankers for an upcoming capital raise.

The Houston-based firm is seeking a banker to help it raise some $40m in development capital, in a role that would then pivot to arranging project finance for a final investment decision, CEO Pat Sanchez said in an interview.

The company recently announced its selection of Topsoe as technology provider for the 3,000-barrels-per-day facility, which will produce renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel. It also tapped Chemex to conduct the FEED study.

Sanchez is the former COO of Sanchez Midstream Partners, having left in 2020 after preferred shareholder Stonepeak took over the company.

He perceives headwinds for capital raising in the biofuels space, but believes the project profile he is promoting is superior to peers due to its hedged profile and the incorporation of a sustainable agriculture component that extracts additional value from an oilseed.

The superior returns, which he claims are north of 25% on an unlevered basis, “come from the integration of two industries” – biofuels and agricultural commodities – “on one site.”

Using Topsoe technology, the proposed plant can swing between 100% SAF to 100% renewable diesel, depending on the needs of the offtaker.

The project has an agreed-upon term sheet for offtake with an oil major. Under the agreement, the oil major is required to deliver feedstock in the form of camelina, canola, and soybean, he said.

Only one company in the U.S. closed on a development capital raise for a bio-based fuel project in 2023. That company was DG Fuels, and it raised up to $30m in development capital for a woody biomass-based Louisiana SAF plant expected to cost $4.2bn and reach FID in 2024.

“There seems to still be some headwinds in some companies on the biofuels side that are struggling to raise development capital,” Sanchez said, noting that the biofuels and clean energy sectors were some of the worst performers in 2023.

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Advisor Profile: Cameron Lynch of Energy & Industrial Advisory Partners

The veteran engineer and financial advisor sees widespread opportunity for capital deployment into early-stage renewable fuel companies.

Cameron Lynch, co-founder and managing partner at Energy & Industrial Advisory Partners, sees prodigious opportunity to pick up mandates in the hydrogen sector as young companies and early movers attract well-capitalized investors looking for auspicious valuations.

The firm, a three-year-old boutique investment banking outfit with offices in New York and Houston, is broadly committed to the energy transition, but is recruiting for new personnel with hydrogen expertise, Lynch said, adding that he is preparing for a new level of dealmaking in the new year.

“I think we can all expect 2023 will be even more of a record year, just given the appetite for hydrogen,” Lynch said. “Hydrogen is one of our core focuses for next year.”

Cameron Lynch

Lynch started his career as a civil & structural engineer and moved into capital equipment manufacturing and leasing for oil & gas, and also industrial gasses –things like cryoge

nic handling equipment for liquid nitrogen. He started the London office of an Aberdeen, U.K.-based M&A firm, before repeating that effort in New York.

Founding EIAP, Lynch and his business partner Sean Shafer have turned toward the energy transition and away from conventional energy. The firm works on the whole of decarbonization but has found the most success in the hydrogen space.

Earlier lifecycle, better valuations

Hydrogen intersects with oil& gas, nuclear, chemicals, midstream companies, and major manufacturing.

Large private equity funds that want to get into the space are realizing that if they don’t want to pay “ridiculous valuations for hydrogen companies” they must take on earlier-stage risk, Lynch said.

Interest from big private equity is therefore comparatively high for early-stage capital raising in the hydrogen sector, Lynch said, particularly where funds have the option to deploy more capital in the future, Lynch said.

“They’re willing to take that step down to what would normally be below their investment threshold.”

Lynch, who expects to launch several transactions in the coming months with EIAP, has a strong background in oil & gas, and views hydrogen valuations as a compelling opportunity now.

“It’s very refreshing to be working on stuff that’s attracting these superb valuations,” Lynch said.

There’s a lot of non-dilutive money in the market and the Inflation Reduction Act has been a major boon to investors, Lynch said. For small companies, getting a slice of the pie is potentially life changing.

Sean Shafer

The hydrogen space is not immune to the macroeconomic challenges that renewables have faced in recent months and years, Lynch said. But as those same challenges have accelerated the move toward energy security, hydrogen stands to benefit.

Supply chain issues post-COVID pose a potential long-term concern in the industry, and equity and debt providers question the availability of compressors and lead times.

“I would say that’s one of the key issues out there,” Lynch said. There’s also the question of available infrastructure and the extent to which new infrastructure will be built out for hydrogen.

EIAP sees the most convincing uses for hydrogen near term in light-weight mobility and aerospace, Lynch said. The molecule also has a strong use case in back-up generation.

Hydrogen additionally presents companies in traditional fossil fuel verticals the opportunity to modernize, Lynch said, citing a secondary trade EIAP completed earlier this year

California’s Suburban Propane Partners acquired a roughly 25% equity stake in Ashburn, Virginia-based Independence Hydrogen, Inc. The deal involved the creation of a new subsidiary, Suburban Renewable Energy, as part of its long-term strategic goal of building out a renewable energy platform.

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Houston ammonia and hydrogen terminal on the block

The owners of a recently developed Houston terminal with proximity to ammonia, hydrogen, and nitrogen pipelines are working with an advisor on a sale process.

The owners of Vopak Moda Houston, a Gulf Coast hydrogen and ammonia terminaling asset, have hired an investment bank to run a sale process, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Intrepid Investment Bankers has been retained to run the process, the sources said.

Vopak Moda and Intrepid did not respond to requests for comment.

Formed in 2016, Vopak Moda Houston is a 50/50 joint venture between Royal Vopak and Moda Midstream. Moda Midstream is a portfolio company of EnCap Flatrock Midstream, which did not respond to a request for comment.

In 2021 the JV commissioned its deepwater dock at the Port of Houston. It has constructed storage and terminal infrastructure for industrial gas product lines, with the stated intention of becoming a premier hydrogen and low-carbon ammonia terminaling hub in the Gulf Coast.

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