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Enbridge enters JV for Permian to Gulf Coast pipeline

The JV with Whitewater/I Squared Capital and MPLX will develop, construct, and operate natural gas pipeline and storage assets connecting the Permian Basin natural to growing LNG and U.S. Gulf Coast demand.

Enbridge Inc. has entered into a definitive agreement with WhiteWater/I Squared Capital and MPLX LP (“MPLX”) to form a joint-venture that will develop, construct, own, and operate natural gas pipeline and storage assets connecting Permian Basin natural gas supply to growing LNG and U.S. Gulf Coast demand, according to a news release.

Highlights:
  • Acquiring a meaningful, strategic equity interest in the joint venture
  • Immediately accretive to DCF per share, with ~90% contracted cash flows
  • Receiving immediate, recurring, and growing cash flow from operating assets with minimal commodity exposure
  • Optimizes balance sheet by increasing EBITDA and reducing Enbridge’s share of future Rio Bravo pipeline project capex proportional to its economic interest in that project
  • Embedded organic expansion opportunities provides attractive growth options and diversifies offtake

The joint venture will be owned by WhiteWater/I Squared (50.6%), MPLX (30.4%), and Enbridge (19.0%) and will include the following assets:

  • 100% interest in Whistler pipeline, a ~450-mile, 42-inch intrastate pipeline transporting natural gas from an interconnect with the Waha Header in the Permian Basin to Agua Dulce, TX, near the starting point of the proposed Rio Bravo pipeline
  • 100% interest in the Rio Bravo pipeline project, ~137-miles of new 42-inch and 48-inch pipelines transporting natural gas from the Agua Dulce supply area to NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG project in Brownsville, Texas
  • 70% interest in ADCC pipeline, a ~40-mile, 42-inch proposed intrastate pipeline designed to transport 1.7 Bcf/d of natural gas from the terminus of the Whistler pipeline in Agua Dulce, TX to Cheniere’s Corpus Christi LNG export facility (the pipeline is expected to be in-service in Q3 2024 and is expandable up to 2.5 Bcf/d)
  • 50% interest in Waha Gas Storage, a ~2.0 Bcf gas storage cavern facility, with additional topside facilities capable of injection and withdrawal

Approximately 98% of capacity is contracted under long-term, take-or-pay contracts with an average contract length greater than 10 years. Approximately 90% of counterparties are investment grade and include leading operators in the Permian Basin.

Upon closing of the transaction, Enbridge will contribute its wholly-owned Rio Bravo pipeline project and $350m in cash to the joint venture, and will fund the first $150m of the post-closing capex to complete the Rio Bravo pipeline project. Enbridge will receive a 19% equity interest in the joint venture and retain a 25% economic interest in the Rio Bravo pipeline project (subject to certain redemption rights of the joint venture partners).

“Acquiring a meaningful equity interest in an integrated Permian natural gas pipeline and storage network that is directly connected to our existing infrastructure at Agua Dulce through this JV with WhiteWater/I Squared and MPLX is very exciting. This is a great way to enhance our super-system approach, bringing energy supply to places where it is needed most and providing last mile connectivity to domestic and export customers,” said Cynthia Hansen, EVP and President, Gas Transmission and Midstream of Enbridge.

Enbridge will be contributing its Rio Bravo pipeline project, which will extend the joint venture’s current infrastructure to serve LNG and other customers on the USGC. Enbridge’s share of the post-closing capex to complete the Rio Bravo pipeline project will be 100% of the first $150m and, thereafter, proportionate to its aggregate economic interest in that project.

This transaction is expected to unlock future growth opportunities for Enbridge to connect sustainable natural gas production to export markets as part of its USGC strategy.

“The transaction optimizes our investment capacity by increasing the efficiency of our capital. We will begin receiving immediate cash flow and will share in future growth opportunities,” said Pat Murray, EVP and Chief Financial Officer of Enbridge. “Having access to new Permian natural gas infrastructure enhances and increases the visibility of our medium-term growth outlook, while being accretive to our balance sheet.”

Closing is expected in the second quarter of 2024, subject to receipt of required regulatory approvals and satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

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Yara and Navigator invest in ammonia bunkering start-up

The investment is expected to enable the start-up, Azane, to begin construction of its first bunkering unit for ammonia supply in Norway.

Yara Growth Ventures AS, the venture investment arm of Yara International ASA, and Navigator Holdings Ltd. have each acquired a 14.5% interest in the Norwegian startup Azane Fuel Solutions AS, according to a news release.

Azane, a joint venture between ECONNECT Energy AS and Amon Maritime AS , both of Norway, was founded in Norway in 2020 as a company that develops proprietary technology and services for ammonia fuel handling, to facilitate the transition to green fuels for shipping.

Subject to customary conditions, Azane intends to build the world’s first ammonia bunkering network, with Yara Clean Ammonia already pre-ordering 15 units from Azane. The investment made by Yara and Navigator is expected to enable Azane to begin construction of its first bunkering unit for ammonia supply in Norway, aiming to kickstart the transition to zero-carbon fuels for maritime transportation. Future value creation for Azane is expected to come through international expansion with its bunkering solutions and broadening of its offerings in ammonia fuel handling technology.

The parties anticipate that the commencement of operations of the bunkering units will begin in Scandinavia in 2025. The total addressable market for ammonia powered ships is estimated to equal to the entire deep sea shipping fleet of 100,000 vessels worldwide, which over time is expected to transition to zero-carbon fuels. Currently, the world of ocean shipping accounts for approximately 3% of global emissions.

Azane is a commercial partner of Yara Clean Ammonia, who expects to provide clean ammonia to be stored in Azane’s bunkering units once operational.

“Currently ammonia fuel bunkering does not exist,” Stian Nygaard, Investment Director, Yara Growth Ventures, said. “With this investment it is expected to become a reality in a year, starting in Scandinavia. This is anticipated to be a huge milestone for reducing emissions from the shipping industry. By enabling Azane to be the first mover on providing this key part of the infrastructure, our goal is to fill a gap in the ammonia chain needed for fueling ships.”

Stian Nygaard is also joining the board to help build the company as a strategic investor.

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Pembina and Marubeni developing Canada-to-Japan blue ammonia project

The project will be structured as an infrastructure-style, fee-based business with investment grade counterparties and is seen as an anchor to a proposed 2,000-acre clean fuels industrial complex in Alberta.

Pembina Pipeline Corporation and Marubeni Corporation have signed an MOU to develop a blue ammonia supply chain from Western Canada to Japan and other Asian markets, according to a news release.

The facility will be on Pembina-owned lands adjacent to its Redwater Complex in the Alberta Industrial Heartland near Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.

Initial feasibility studies have been completed and the facility has an anticipated design capacity of up to 185 kilotonnes per year of hydrogen production, which will be converted into approximately one million tonnes per year of ammonia.

The facility will include carbon capture with the potential for integrated transportation and sequestration on the proposed Alberta Carbon Grid being developed by Pembina and TC Energy.

The ammonia would be transported via rail to Canada’s WestCoast and shipped to Japan and other Asian markets.

Under the MOA, Pembina and Marubeni will focus on the preliminary Front End Engineering Design (pre-FEED), engagement with various stakeholders, including governments in Canada and Japan, and commercial activities.

The project is expected to be structured as an infrastructure-style, fee-based business with investment grade counter parties. Pre-FEED work is currently expected to be completed by early 2024.

The project could potentially serve as an anchor development to advance Pembina’s ongoing efforts to establish a new growth platform known as the Pembina Low Carbon Complex (PLCC) for energy transition technologies, sustainable fuels, and chemicals like hydrogen, ammonia and methanol.

“With over 2,000 contiguous acres of undeveloped land located in the Alberta Industrial Heartland, Pembina’s vision is to develop an industrial complex for low-carbon energy infrastructure to better enable Pembina and third parties to develop projects, while reducing costs, emissions, and risk,” the release states.

Projects within the PLCC would gain access to land, low-carbon hydrogen, clean power, natural gas and industrial gases, water, CCUS, and the construction and operation of rail assets. Within the PLCC, Pembina would lease land to third parties and provide infrastructure, logistics, and shared services to tenants.

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HSB joining Green Hydrogen and Technology Alliance

The engineering and technical risk insurer will focus on inspection test plans and storage and transportation solutions.

HSB has joined the Clean Energy Holdings Renewable Energy and Technology Alliance Platform, according to a press release.

The engineering and technical risk insurer, based in Hartford, Connecticut, has been a member of Munich Re’s Risk Solutions family since 2009. Its role in the group will be to focus on inspection test plans and storage and transportation solutions.

The Alliance comprises Clean Energy Holdings (with ING Americas as financial advisor), Bair Energy, Chart Industries, Equix, RockeTruck, Coast 2 Coast Logistics, and The Eastman Group.

“As the largest Authorized Inspection Agency (AIA) accredited by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), HSB’s contribution to the Renewable Energy and Technology Alliance will focus on defining safe plans for this clean energy emerging industry,” the release states.

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Midstream hydrogen firm to seek capital for projects within one year

The first slate of the company’s salt cavern hydrogen storage and pipeline projects will likely reach FID within six to 12 months, setting the stage for a series of project finance and tax equity transactions.

NeuVentus, the newly formed midstream infrastructure and hydrogen storage company backed by Lotus Infrastructure Partners, will likely seek project financing and tax equity for its first cache of projects in the Gulf Coast region of Texas and Louisiana in six to 12 months, CEO Sam Porter said in an interview.

“It sure looks like 45V and 45Q, and basically everything the IRA just did, is like a brick on the accelerator,” Porter said, explaining that he expects additional federal clarifications for hydrogen to come this year. “We’re looking at FIDing a first batch of projects, which I think are really going to marry up some things that the project finance community loves.”

That includes salt cavern storage and pipelines with a novel ESG twist, Porter said. The company plans to own and operate its developments as a platform. If in time demand for projects becomes overwhelming, the equity holders could sell those projects.

NeuVentus recently launched with Lotus’ backing. The private equity firm’s position is that they are able and ready to fund all project- and platform-level equity, Porter said.

“There’s certainly project level finance requirements, debt, tax equity and sponsor equity,” Porter said. The company will first get its projects de-risked as much as possible.

Pickering Energy Partners was mandated for NeuVentus’ seed raise. Porter said there could be additional opportunities for financial advisors to participate in fundraising, though Lotus has significant in-house capabilities and relationships.

Vinson & Elkins served as the law firm advising Lotus Infrastructure, formerly Starwood Energy, on the launch of NeuVentus.

The company is also open to acquiring abandoned or underutilized infrastructure assets, convertible to hydrogen, Porter said. Assets that connect production and consumption that can be more resistant to embrittlement than newer midstream infrastructure and would be of interest.

Exiting assets in regions that are good for hydrogen production, namely those that are sunny and windy, and are relatively close to consumption, will get the closest look.

Oil & gas in the energy transition

Renewable-sourced hydrogen offers an opportunity for traditional oil and gas operators to continue their work in salt domes.

NeuVentus’ plan is to focus on storage first, and then have the pipeline emanate from that, Porter said. The founding team of the company has a lot of experience in oil & gas and structuring land deals (mineral rights and surface/storage rights) in the Gulf region, where salt caverns are abundant.

The company is also open to an anchor tenant that needs a pipeline segment between production and consumption. But from a developers’ perspective the most prudent play will be around storage sites located with multiple interconnection options, he said.

There are roughly 1,500 miles of pipeline and 9 to 10 million kilograms of daily hydrogen production and consumption in the Texas and Louisiana Gulf region, Porter said.

“I think we’re going to see a significant need for more midstream build-out,” he said. “The traditional fee-for-service model is going to be appealing to a lot of the new entrants.”

A molecule-agnostic approach

Hydrogen is “a Swiss army knife” of a feedstock for numerous use cases, Porter said. That all of those use cases will prevail is uncertain, but NeuVentus ultimately only needs one or two of them to grow.

“Additional hydrogen infrastructure is going to be required,” whether it’s for ammonia as fertilizer or methanol as fuel or something else, Porter said. “We don’t necessarily care: all of them are going to require clean hydrogen.”

Equity owners in NueVentus will be opportunistic when it comes to an eventual financial exit, Porter said.

“The beauty of this is that I can see a number of potential buyers,” he said.

An offtaker that wants to vertically integrate, like foreign consumers of hydrogen products, could want to acquire a midstream platform for purposes of national energy security. Industrial gas companies could want to acquire the infrastructure as well. Large energy transfer companies that move molecules are obvious acquirers as well, and finally the company could remain independent or list publicly under its own business plan.

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Exclusive: Middle market flagship fund to target e-fuels, renewables

A new $1.5bn US-focused flagship fund focused on middle market companies is in discussions with new and existing LPs now and will consider e-fuels and other sustainable molecules in its deployment.

Energy Impact Partners, the New York-based investment firm, is in discussions with new and existing LPs to raise a $1.5bn flagship fund focused on the middle market, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The raise is being done without a financial advisor, the sources said. Once complete, it will target platforms and assets in the $40m to $50m range.

While the fund will be broadly focused on renewables, e-fuels and other sustainable fuels companies will be considered, one of the sources said.

The investment manager has invested in clean fuels via equity positions in Electric Hydrogen, Terragia and Metafuels, among others.

EIP did not respond to requests for comment.

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Exclusive: Hydrogen adoption and production firm prepping capital raise

A decarbonization services provider is in development on multiple utility-owned hydrogen adoption projects in the Northeast, Texas and Georgia and is preparing to launch a capital raise in 3Q24.

Celadyne, a Chicago-based decarbonization and hydrogen solutions company, will launch a Series A this year as it continues its role in the development of several utility-owned hydrogen adoption projects in the US, founder and CEO Gary Ong told ReSource.

A $20m to $30m capital raise will likely launch in 3Q24, Ong said. The company is relying on existing investors from its recent seed round to advise, and the amount could change based on grants.

While the $4.5m seed round allowed the company to focus on transportation mobility, the Series A will be used to do more work on hydrogen production, so the company will be looking for strategics in oil and gas, renewable energy, and utilities.

DLA Piper is the company’s legal advisor, Ong said.

Celadyne has a contract signed with a utility in the Northeast for a small electrolysis demonstration and, following that, a multimillion-dollar project. Discussions on how to finance that latter project are underway.

Additional electrolysis projects in Texas and Georgia are in later discussions, while less mature deals are taking shape with a nuclear customer in Illinois and another project in Southern California, Ong said.

Fuel cell customers (typically OEMs that use hydrogen) to which Celadyne ships equipment are clustered mostly in Vancouver, Michigan and California.

Meanwhile, Celadyne has generated revenues from military contracts of about $1m, Ong said, a source of non-recurring revenue that has prodded the company to look for a fuel cell integration partner specific to the defense application.

‘Blocking hydrogen’

The company, founded in 2019, is focused on solving for the demand and supply issues for which the fledgling US hydrogen market is notorious. Thus, it is split-focused between hydrogen adoption and production.

Celadyne has developed a nanoparticle coating that can be applied to existing fuel cell and electrolyzer membranes.

On the heavy-duty side, such as diesel generators or back-up power, the company improves durability of engines between 3X and 5X, Ong said.

On the electrolysis side, the technology improves rote efficiency by 15%. In production, Celadyne is looking for pilot projects and verification studies.

“We’re very good at blocking hydrogen,” he said. “In a fuel cell or electrolyzer, when you have hydrogen on one side and oxygen on the other side, you need something to make sure the hydrogen never sees the oxygen,” noting that it improves safety, reduces side reaction chemistry and improves efficiency.

Hydrogen adoption now will lead to green proliferation later should the economics prove out, according to Ong. If not, blue hydrogen and other decarbonized sources will still pave the way to climate stability.

The only negative for that is the apparent cost-floor for blue hydrogen in fuel cell technologies, Ong said, as carbon capture can only be so cost efficient.

“So, if the price floor is say, $3.25 or $3.50 per kg, it doesn’t mean that you cannot use it for things like transportation, it just means that it might be hard to use it for things like shipping, where the fuel just has to be cheaper,” Ong said.

Three companies

Celadyne is split into three focus applications: defense, materials, and production. If only one of those wings works, Ong said he could see selling to a strategic at some point.

“If any of those things work out, we ought to become a billion-dollar company,” he said.

If all three work out, Ong will likely seek to do an IPO.

An acquisition could be driven by an acquiror that can help Celadyne commercialize its products faster, he said.

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