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Energy investors raise debut fund

A former Tudor, Pickering, and Holt founder and CEO has closed on a debut investment fund.

Veriten, the energy research, investing, and strategy firm, has closed its debut fund, NexTen LP, with $85m in committed capital.

The NexTen fund is highly complementary to Veriten’s mission of identifying and advancing reliable, sustainable, scalable, and economically viable solutions with minimal environmental impact in a constantly evolving and volatile energy landscape, according to a news release.

The fund has made five investments to date, partnering with high-quality businesses that align with Veriten’s views on the direction of energy over the next decade. Participants in the NexTen fund include select energy companies and financial institutions, current and former energy operations and finance professionals, family offices, and Veriten team members.

The NexTen Advisory Board includes Jason Cansler, CEO of Birch Resources, Bob Gwin, former President and CFO of Anadarko Petroleum, and Marty Phillips, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Encap Investments.

“Our work at Veriten is in constant pursuit of understanding where the energy world is headed, with a practical and commercial focus on the next ten years,” said Veriten Founder & CEO Maynard Holt. “This work includes identifying the opportunities and challenges associated with societal ambitions, government policies, engineering and physical realities, and geopolitics, as well as the impact of new technologies, capital flows, and, importantly, financial returns.”

Founded in January 2022, Veriten partners with corporate and financial customers drawn from a full spectrum of energy, power, mining, industrial, and technology companies and provides custom research and strategic advice for management teams and boards. The NexTen fund is the latest addition to the Veriten platform and leverages the firm’s broad network and expertise to invest in private companies with the potential to capitalize on long-term energy solutions for consumers globally.

The firm’s leadership is comprised of its founder, Maynard Holt, Co-Founder and former CEO of the energy investment bank Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. (TPH), along with Jeff Tillery, former head of TPH Research, Arjun Murti, former head of Goldman Sachs Research, Mike Bradley, former head of TPH Capital Markets, and Todd Scruggs, former Treasurer and Vice President of Corporate Development at WPX Energy. Beyond the commercial efforts of the firm, two of the firm’s more well-known energy education efforts include its weekly “Close of Business Tuesday” podcast and “Super-Spiked” energy editorial. COBT has recorded over 215 episodes since March 2020, and Super-Spiked has been published weekly since November 2021.

“We have intentionally built a community of diverse perspectives that includes great friends, great energy thinkers, experienced energy leaders, and leading energy companies to create a powerful network and collaborative environment that we can call on,” added Holt. “Sorting out where energy is headed will require thinking about all the angles. We are really excited about the team, the investors, and the partners we are bringing together to try and crack the code to the next ten years in energy,” he added.

Todd Scruggs, Veriten’s Partner leading the NexTen fund, commented, “We look for companies that have strong leadership and partners, have developed products or services with existing customers that have broad applicability on trend with where we believe the energy world is going, and where Veriten and its partners can add value to the company.”

The NexTen fund’s current investments include:

  • Amperon, the leader in AI-powered electricity analytics, provides mission-critical forecasts for businesses to navigate the energy complex and accelerate grid decarbonization.
  • Emrgy, a provider of baseload, carbon-free power utilizing small scale hydro generation technology in water infrastructure assets across the globe.
  • Mesa Natural Gas Solutions, a natural gas-powered distributed generation company focused on oil and gas as well as commercial and industrial remote power and power backup applications.
  • Orbital Sidekick, a satellite-based asset monitoring provider utilizing hyperspectral technology to help energy, government, and mining customers meet their sustainability and other goals.
  • Orennia, the leading data and analytics platform for energy transition investors and developers, with insights across solar, wind, carbon capture, storage, hydrogen, and renewable fuels projects.

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Fortescue hires from Riverstone for investment arm

Fortescue is looking to bring in equity investors for its projects as part of the formation of a New York-based investment arm.

Fortescue Metals Group Ltd has formed Fortescue Capital, headquartered in New York City, and named Robert Tichio as CEO and managing partner. 

Fortescue Capital is a new green energy investment accelerator platform, and an integral next step in Fortescue’s commitment to deliver green energy projects and decarbonization investments, according to a news release.

Fortescue Energy CEO, Mark Hutchinson, said “Fortescue is taking its global pipeline of green hydrogen and green ammonia projects to Final Investment Decision, and in doing so has communicated our intention and desire to bring additional equity investors onboard. Further, Fortescue has previously communicated its planned investment to decarbonize its Pilbara operations, and we see Fortescue Capital as an essential tool of engagement as we embark on both missions.” 

Before joining Fortescue, Tichio spent over 17 years at Riverstone Holdings, a New York based private equity firm, that has seen total capital raised across a variety of private equity and related products exceed $42bn. 

Tichio will be joined by a senior leadership team with a global background across sustainable infrastructure, climate technology, energy and private markets, which includes Nathan Craig, Rael McNally and Jennifer Zarrilli. 

Each will serve as Managing Directors and be based in New York. 

Tichio reports to Mark Hutchinson, CEO of Fortescue Energy, and the Operating Board of Fortescue Capital, which will initially include Robert Tichio, Jean Baderschneider, Mark Hutchinson and Mark Barnaba. Fortescue Capital is being developed as a fiduciary for third-party capital, which will complement the Energy and Metals internal corporate finance teams that already exist and work collaboratively to serve the shareholders of Fortescue. 

Funding models will differ on a project-by-project basis as projects are formally approved by the Fortescue Board. The Company expects to hold equity stakes between 25 per cent and 50 per cent in each project, with third-party investors. 

These potential capital partners include sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, endowments, insurance companies and ultra-high net worth family offices.

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Amazon investing big in direct air capture

The online retail giant entered a carbon removal agreement with an Oxy DAC project in Texas, and took a stake in a separate DAC developer.

Amazon has made its first investments in direct air capture (DAC) as part of its Climate Pledge commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, according to a news release.

Amazon is supporting the world’s largest deployment of DAC technology by committing to purchase 250,000 metric tons of carbon removal over 10 years from STRATOS, 1PointFive’s first DAC plant. This is equivalent to the amount of carbon stored naturally across more than 290,000 acres of U.S. forests—roughly half the size of the state of Rhode Island. Carbon captured under this agreement will be stored deep underground in saline aquifers, which are large geological rock formations that are saturated in salt water.

1PointFive is a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum.

In addition, Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund is making an investment in CarbonCapture Inc., a climate technology company recognized for its pioneering modular DAC systems. These systems are designed to be easily upgraded over time with next-generation sorbents that filter carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere, facilitating cost reductions driven by rapid material science advancements.

In DAC technology, CO2 in the atmosphere is filtered out and stored in underground geological formations, or used to create products such as building materials, like concrete, bricks, and cement. With these new investments, DAC will become one component of Amazon’s broader sustainability strategy, which also includes developing nature-based solutions such as forest conservation and restoration.

“Amazon’s primary focus is to decarbonize our global operations through our transition to renewable energy, building with more sustainable materials and electrifying our delivery fleet, and global logistics,” said Kara Hurst, vice president of worldwide sustainability at Amazon. “We are also pursuing changes such as reducing the weight of packaging per shipment for our customers. At the same time, we also need to seek every possible avenue to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. These investments in direct air capture complement our emissions reductions plans, and we are excited to support the growth and deployment of this technology.”

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Fuel cell towboat receives U.S. Coast Guard ok

The towboat is being designed as a first-of-its-kind vessel using new, cleaner, fuel cell technology that works by converting stored methanol to hydrogen.

Maritime Partners, LLC, a provider of maritime financing solutions primarily focused on Jones Act vessels, has received a Design Basis Agreement from the U.S. Coast Guard for the M/V Hydrogen One towboat that includes e1 Marine hydrogen generator technology that will be utilized for the vessel’s power plant.

M/V Hydrogen One is being designed as a first-of-its-kind vessel using new, cleaner, fuel cell technology that works by converting stored methanol to hydrogen, according to a news release. The produced hydrogen is output, on-demand, to the fuel cell to generate power for the vessel. A successful string test of this technology was completed in Gothenburg, Sweden, in June 2023, proving it to be a viable option as the sole power generation source for vessel propulsion.

“The signing of this agreement opens the pathway for us to deploy our technological capabilities,” said Bick Brooks, co-founder and CEO of Maritime Partners. “With this, Hydrogen One is one step closer to becoming the world’s first vessel to utilize hydrogen generator technology greatly reducing emissions, increasing efficiency and providing a model for cleaner energy use as the industry continues to seek ways to decarbonize.”

The DBA process was established by the U.S. Coast Guard to set the rules for new and novel technology proposed for installation on marine vessels. Maritime Partners worked with several industry leaders on the Hydrogen One project, including Seattle-based Elliott Bay Design Group, who is designing the towboat; Bourg, La.-based Intracoastal Iron Works who is the selected shipyard; e1 Marine, RIX Industries, Power Cell Group, among others, in order to work through the U.S. Coast Guard requirements.

“Maritime Partners is strongly committed to developing and utilizing sustainable, clean energy solutions, as the entire maritime industry continues to seek alternative fuel options that are cleaner, greener and more efficient. The development of Hydrogen One is part of that commitment,” said Dave Lee, Maritime Partners’ VP of Technology & Innovation.

The signing of this DBA ensures that as the M/V Hydrogen One project advances Maritime Partners will be working towards an agreed upon framework with the U.S. Coast Guard for the design, arrangement, and engineering aspects of the power system and associated safety systems for plan review, inspection, and eventual certification of the M/V Hydrogen One.

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Exclusive: Alternative asset manager exploring decarbonization fund

An asset manager in sustainable energy and agriculture is laying the groundwork for a fund focused on decarbonization of heavy industry and clean fuels.

Power Sustainable, the alternative asset manager based in Montreal, is deliberating on how to launch a fund focused on industrial decarbonization and clean fuels, a source familiar with the matter told ReSource.

The firm, which has AUM of CAD 3.8bn as of March 31 through several credit funds in energy infra and and an equity vehicle in sustainable food production, is exploring the launch of a decarbonization private equity vehicle to make investments in things like green steel, cement and plastics, the source said.

Hiring or partnering with experts in the space to make informed decisions about private equity investment opportunities would be key, the source said.

“We’re going to bring in a phenomenal team and really trust them to figure out where the best investment plays are,” the source said.

The company has a strong relationship with Éric Gauthier, the development manager and his team at TESCanada H2 in Quebec, which is developing a large-scale green hydrogen facility in that province.

That project, Project Mauricie, consists of the construction of an electrolyzer and renewable energy production assets. Upon its commissioning in 2028, the project will produce 70,000 mtpy of green hydrogen exclusively dedicated to Québec end users.

The firm is in growth mode, seeking to multiply the size of its existing mandates, the source said. The firm is open to consultation from external advisory services.

Power Sustainable declined to comment.

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See all 79 DOE hydrogen hub applicants

The list, obtained by this publication, shows whether projects were ‘encouraged’ or ‘discouraged’ to submit a final application.

The complete list of 79 applicants to the US Department of Energy’s hydrogen hub funding opportunity includes previously unreported projects from oil majors and renewable energy giants.

The list, obtained by this publication via a FOIA request, shows whether or not projects were ‘encouraged’ or ‘discouraged’ by the DOE to submit a final application before the April 7, 2023 deadline. The program is expected to offer $8bn in federal funding for six to 10 clean hydrogen hubs, with no single project receiving more than $1.25bn. A decision of funding recipients is expected this fall.

Over nearly nine months, the DOE FOIA office was unwilling to send information about the initial 79 applications that were submitted last year, citing confidential materials in the concept papers. The resulting list is therefore scant in details, showing only the name of the project and the lead entity.

While many of the concepts have been publicly announced by proponents, several major projects that have not been reported previously appear on the list: among others, ExxonMobil was encouraged to apply for funding for a project called “Hydrogen Liftoff Hub”; and NextEra has a “Southeast Hydrogen Network” project, which was also encouraged to apply.

The full list of project names and proponents has been added to The Hydrogen Source’s project database, which now showcases over 370 projects in North America, including hydrogen, ammonia, and sustainable aviation fuel as well as eFuels, carbon capture, direct air capture, and more.

The full database is available only to paid subscribers. Simply click over to the database and select the “DOE applicants” filter for the full list.

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Canadian renewables major eyeing hydrogen production at pumped hydro facility

Canadian power generation giant TransAlta could co-locate hydrogen production with select wind and hydroelectric facilities.

TransAlta, the Canadian power generator and wholesale marketing company, is contemplating a buildout of hydrogen production capabilities at its 320 MW Tent Mountain pumped hydro storage project in Alberta, Executive Vice President of Alberta Business Blain van Melle said in an interview.

“Our view on hydrogen is that it’s a technology that’s an option, somewhat further out in the future, particularly when it comes to power generation,” van Melle said. “If we can offer our customers maybe a power and hydrogen solution, and they’re using the hydrogen in another process, that would be something we would look at.”

In early 2022 TransAlta made a CAD 2m equity investment in Ekona Power, a methane pyrolysis company based in Vancouver. The company also committed USD $25m over four years to EIP’s Deep Decarbonization Frontier Fund 1.

That latter investment is a way to continue to learn about hydrogen and have exposure to emerging technologies, van Melle said.

The recent 50% stake acquisition in the Tent Mountain project includes the intellectual property associated with a 100 MW offsite green hydrogen electrolyzer and a 100 MW offsite wind development project.

Having hydrogen production co-located with wind and pumped hydro storage could make sense for the company in a few years, van Melle said. FID on Tent Mountain could be reached sometime in 2025 and will require the company to secure a PPA offtake and determine capital cost. Development work will take three to four years and earliest construction could begin in 2026.

The company has not had discussions with potential offtakers, van Melle said, adding that development on the pumped hydro facility needs to mature before a hydrogen component advances.

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