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HIF Global in USD 4bn eFuels project in Uruguay

The HIF Paysandú eFuels facility is expected to produce over 256 million liters per year of eGasoline by combining 100,000 tons per year of green hydrogen produced at the facility and 710,000 tons per year of captured CO2.

HIF Global, an eFuels company, announced its expansion to Uruguay, where it will commence development of an approximately USD 4bn eFuels project in the city of Paysandú, according to a news release.

The President of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle, yesterday announced HIF Global as the winner of the tender process conducted by the state-owned Ancap group company ALUR to negotiate the purchase of 150,000 tons per year of biogenic carbon dioxide, approximately 20% of the total CO2 required for the eFuels facility.

President and CEO of HIF Global, Cesar Norton, said, “This is our first step to initiate projects in Uruguay and continue our global fight against climate change. Our focus now will be on the permitting and engineering of the HIF Paysandú eFuels facility, the first plant of its kind in the country. We will use the CO2 supplied by ALUR to unlock additional renewable energy production in Uruguay and convert it into carbon-neutral eFuels, creating a new industry and contributing to decarbonization of the transportation sector.”

eFuels, including eMethanol, are made using electrolyzers powered by renewable energy to separate hydrogen from oxygen in water. The green hydrogen will be utilized together with biogenic carbon dioxide to produce carbon neutral eFuels, which are chemically equivalent to fuels used today and can therefore be dropped-in to existing engines without any modifications required.

The HIF Paysandú eFuels facility is expected to produce over 256 million liters per year of eGasoline by combining 100,000 tons per year of green hydrogen produced at the facility and 710,000 tons per year of captured CO2. This is equivalent to decarbonizing more than 150,000 vehicles annually.

HIF estimates the facility will require 1 GW of electrolyzer capacity, 2 GW of renewable electricity, 1,500 jobs during the construction phase and 300 permanent jobs during operations.

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Braya Renewables hires industry veteran Todd O’Malley as CEO

O’Malley, who comes from the downstream energy industry, is joining the company as CEO. Frank Almaraz, Braya’s current CEO, will stay on with Braya, focusing on its work to develop wind and green hydrogen opportunities with ABO Wind.

Braya Renewable Fuels (Braya) announced today that Todd O’Malley is joining the company as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Frank Almaraz, Braya’s current CEO, will stay on with Braya, focusing on Braya’s work to develop wind and green hydrogen opportunities with ABO Wind.

O’Malley has previously held C-suite positions at Delek US Holdings (COO), Citizens Companies (President and CEO), Gulf Oil (EVP and Chief Commercial Officer), PBF Logistics (President), and PBF Energy (SVP and Chief Commercial Officer).

“Under the direction of Jim Stump, Braya’s President of Refining, the project has hit several key milestones and is positioned to be the largest independently owned renewable diesel refinery in North America. I’m eager to do my part in helping the refinery in Come By Chance contribute to the ongoing effort to decarbonize heavy transport and aviation, both of which are crucial to the world’s economic activity and have limited near-term energy transition solutions.”

Chris Rozzell, Braya’s Chairman of the Board and Managing Partner of Cresta Fund Management LLC, a private equity fund based in Dallas, Texas that owns a controlling interest in Braya, added, “Todd is a great addition to Braya’s leadership team. He has an unmatched reputation in the refining industry, and we think Todd is a perfect fit for Braya as it grows into its renewable fuel production ambitions. Adding Todd to the team will also give Frank more time to focus on Braya’s green hydrogen project, which is a key growth area for its business.”

Energy Capital Partners recently made a $300m preferred equity investment in the project.

On September 6, 2023, Braya announced the successful outcome of the Crown Land Call for Bids for Wind Energy Projects, which awarded to Braya partner ABO Wind exclusive rights to pursue development of the Toqlukuti’k Wind and Hydrogen Ltd. Project. Almaraz will continue to lead the project development for Braya.

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Hydra Energy breaks ground on hydrogen refueling station

Vancouver-based Hydra Energy has broken ground on what it calls the world’s largest hydrogen refueling station in Prince George, British Columbia.

Vancouver-based Hydra Energy has broken ground on what it calls the world’s largest hydrogen refueling station in Prince George, British Columbia.

The groundbreaking marks the first project in the company’s Western Canadian Hydrogen Corridor servicing B.C.- and Alberta-based heavy-duty trucks that have been converted to run on both hydrogen and diesel using Hydra’s zero-cost, co-combustion conversion kits. This includes Hydra’s first paying fleet customer, Prince George-based Dymin Mechanical, whose fleet will represent 12 of the 65 trucks the new station will support.

“What’s so important about designing and building our own hydrogen refueling station is that it solidifies a template of how to overcome the chicken and egg problem that has plagued the hydrogen sector. This Prince George station demonstrates that hydrogen can be provided at diesel parity without up-front capital costs for fleets,” stated Hydra Energy Service Delivery Lead, Ilya Radetski.

The new station and hydrogen production will be located on five acres, will produce 3,250 kilograms of hydrogen a day, and can refuel as quickly as diesel and up to 24 Hydra-converted trucks each hour across four bays. The station’s low-carbon hydrogen is being produced from two on-site, 5 MW electrolysers with electricity coming from BC Hydro, B.C.’s main electricity utility with 31 hydroelectric facilities throughout the province.

Additional critical partners include energy project delivery expert, Solaris, and industrial construction specialist, PCL Construction, with project financing support coming from Hydra’s seed funders and non-dilutive government funding including the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation – Part 3 Agreement.

Hydra’s Prince George station will be operational early 2024. In the meantime, the company is also partnering with the Edmonton International Airport (EIA) to build a similar project on EIA land. This will service Hydra-converted trucks in the Edmonton region (like Hydra’s second fleet customer, VEXSL) marking the Eastern-most endpoint of Hydra’s Western Canadian Hydrogen Corridor on Highway 16. Additionally, another station is being explored along the same highway in Port Edward/Prince Rupert located west of Prince George. Hydra is currently raising the balance of funding needed for the projects and will announce new investors once confirmed.

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Macquarie invests $325m into green nitrogen developer

Macquarie has made an investment from its energy transition fund into a Swiss-based developer of green nitrogen projects, with facilities under development in the US and Brazil.

Macquarie Asset Management (MAM) and Atlas Agro Holding AG (Atlas Agro) have announced today an up to $325m investment in Atlas Agro and affiliated project entities via the Macquarie GIG Energy Transition Solutions (MGETS) fund, according to a news release.

Atlas Agro is building industrial scale green nitrogen fertilizer plants in the United States and Latin America which will utilize green hydrogen in its production process, in lieu of conventional nitrogen fertilizer production utilizing fossil fuels. Atlas Agro’s innovative business model will produce competitive carbon-free nitrate fertilizers locally in agricultural regions, thereby displacing imported products with a significant carbon footprint from both production and transportation.

“MAM, with their experience in projects and infrastructure, ability to initiate support investments with a wide range of expertise and their commitment to accelerate decarbonization of hard-to-abate-industries, is an ideal partner for us as we approach construction of our first plants in the United States,” said Petter Østbø, CEO of Atlas Agro.

The investment is a significant step towards enabling Atlas Agro’s expansion across the Americas and globally. It will assist the company in realizing its vision of providing a sustainable alternative to conventional fossil-fuel based fertilizer products, which contribute heavily to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

SpareBank 1 Markets AS acted as financial advisor and Homburger AG served as legal counsel to Atlas Agro. Allen & Overy LLP served as legal counsel to Macquarie Asset Management.

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Hydra Energy raising equity and debt capital for hydrogen refueling infrastructure

The hydrogen-as-a-service provider for commercial trucking fleets is pursuing an equity raise that will unlock a debt facility for scaling up hydrogen refueling infrastructure in Western Canada.

Hydra Energy, a hydrogen-as-a-service provider for commercial trucking fleets, is in the midst of a CAD 14m equity capital raise.

The Vancouver-based company is pursuing the equity raise in support of its Prince George hydrogen fueling station, which is set to be operational in 2024 and would be the largest in the world, Hydra CEO Jessica Verhagan.

The equity portion of the financing is needed to unlock an additional CAD 150m debt facility to complete initial scale-up of the company’s planned hydrogen corridor along Highway 16 in Western Canada, Verhagan added.

Verhagan said the company is not working with a financial advisor on the capital raise but could issue RFPs for advisory services in the future. She declined to name the provider of the proposed debt facility, apart from clarifying that it was not government-sponsored.

“To date, Hydra has been signing up commercial fleets and building out its initial hydrogen refuelling infrastructure throughout Western Canada, but the company is about to announce expansion throughout the rest of the country via licensing to a national fossil fuel distributor looking to extend its low-carbon alternative fuel offerings,” the executive said via email.

Hydra’s target market to date has been the roughly 5 million Class 8 trucks within North America, Verhagan said, with the company aiming to “conservatively” capture 1% of that market by 2030 through commercial discussions already underway. Hydra is also exploring expansion into the UK as well as Europe, Australia, and the Middle East.

“Hydra’s initial focus has been on proving out its Hydrogen-as-a-ServiceTM (HaaSTM) template which includes the company providing its proprietary hydrogen-diesel, co-combustion conversion kits to commercial fleets at zero cost (in exchange for long-term hydrogen fuel contracts at diesel equivalent prices) as well as an initial hydrogen refuelling station to service 65 Hydra- converted trucks in Prince George, B.C.,” she said.

Verhagan said the company will announce its first electrolysis partner for the Prince George hydrogen refueling station early next year. The station will be able to refuel – as quickly as diesel – up to 24 Hydra-converted trucks each hour across four bays. The station will provide hydrogen from two onsite, 5 MW electrolyzers powered with electricity from BC Hydro.

“The adoption of Hydra’s technology really comes down to availability of low carbon hydrogen – showing fleets it’s possible to go green cost-effectively – and government support to utilize hydrogen to reduce trucking emissions right now,” Verhagan said.

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Exclusive: Waste-to-fuels developer preparing capital raise

A waste-to-fuels developer has lined up an advisor and is planning a capital raise for a project in West Texas, in what is expected to be the first of up to 20 similar fundraising efforts totaling $500m in external capital needs.

Recover, Inc., a Calgary-based waste-to-fuels project developer, is preparing to launch a capital raise for its first US-based projects in West Texas.

The company has lined up CIBC to assist with the capital raise while a large Canadian Crown Corporation is expected to sign on as a lending partner for the debt portion of the cap stack, CFO Shane Kozak said in an interview.

Kozak said he will need to raise $70m – $75m for the West Texas project, which will process waste from oil and gas drilling fluids and recover 800 barrels per day of low carbon intensity diesel fuel from 800 tons of waste.

Existing equity backers Azimuth Capital and BDC will participate in the capital raise, but the company is seeking additional project equity investors to take part in a 60% debt to 40% equity capital structure, Kozak said.

While the cost of the West Texas project is estimated at $55m, the company needs to raise approximately $70m to account for debt servicing and underwriting fees, he added.

Recover has mapped out a strategy to build 20 projects in oil and gas basins across the US, and estimates it will need to raise $500m in external capital over 10 years to fully develop those projects.

Project model

The company already operates a similar facility in Alberta that became operational in 2018, at a cost of CAD 20m and producing about half of what the West Texas project will produce.

“This has been commercially proven in Canada, and we’re going to a better market with a lot more drilling waste production” in the US, Kozak said.

The waste stream from oil and gas drilling contains large amounts of diesel fuel: a typical well will create 400 – 500 tons of waste, 30%-40% of which is recoverable low carbon intensity diesel, Kozak said.

In Texas, the drilling fluid waste often ends up in pits near drilling rigs or in industrial landfills, where it biodegrades over time and emits CO2 and methane into the atmosphere.

“We significantly reduce GHG emissions and create a fuel source that can be reused, and every barrel that we recover is a barrel of fuel that would otherwise have to come from a fossil fuel source,” he said.

Recent changes to Texas policy regarding oil and gas drilling waste could increase the availability of feedstock for the company. The Texas RailRoad Commission, which oversees the state’s oil and gas industry, is seeking to modernize disposal practices that would redirect waste from drilling pits to more centralized industrial landfills.

“The good thing for us is that, in the Permian Basin, about 70% – 80% of the wells use these pits, and our strategy is to build our facility directly on industrial landfills,” Kozak said.

Recover is working with a large landfill management company with operations across the US to develop its facilities, he added. The company does not pay for feedstock, given the synergistic relationship between Recover and the landfill management company.

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Exclusive: Verde Clean Fuels seeking project finance for gas refineries

Publicly listed Verde Clean Fuels plans to seek equity and debt investors for low-carbon gasoline refineries it expects to deploy across the US. We spoke to CEO Ernest Miller about the strategy.

Verde Clean Fuels, a publicly listed developer of clean fuels technology and projects, is planning to seek project debt and equity investors to finance a series of low-carbon gasoline refineries it expects to deploy across the US.

Houston-based Verde, which employs syngas-to-gasoline refining technology, recently announced an agreement with Diamondback Energy to construct a facility in the Permian Basin that will utilize stranded natural gas to produce 3,000 barrels per day of gasoline.

The company is also pursuing a carbon-negative gasoline project on the premises of California Resources’ Net Zero Industrial Park in Bakersfield, California. The California project will produce approximately 500 barrels of RBOB renewable gasoline per day from agricultural waste, while capturing and sequestering around 125,000 tons of CO2 per year.

Verde is capitalized following a private investment in public equity (PIPE) injection of $54m as part of a reverse merger last year, allowing the company to take the Bakersfield and West Texas projects through the FEED phase, CEO Ernest Miller said in an interview.

Underpinning Verde’s business model is the view that gasoline will persist as a transportation fuel for many years to come, and that very few parties are working to decarbonize the gasoline supply chain.

“Between renewable diesel, renewable natural gas, and sustainable aviation fuel, there is very little awareness that renewable gasoline is even a thing,” Miller said. “The addressable market is enormous, and the impact that can be made by taking even a sliver of that market is enormous.”

Miller says that many market participants believe that electric vehicles will solve the emissions problem from road transport.

“The fact is that gasoline has a very, very long runway ahead of it,” he said. “Regardless of the assumptions you want to make about EV penetration, the volume of gasoline that we continue to use for the foreseeable future is huge.”

Verde Clean Fuels demo plant.

Verde’s projects are sized in the 500 – 3,000 barrels per day range, making them a unique player at the smaller end of the production range. The only other companies with similar methanol-to-gas technology are ExxonMobil and Danish-based Topsoe, which operate at a much larger scale, according to Miller.

Miller recognizes that low-carbon, or negative-carbon, gasoline operates within a complex ecosystem, with the California project potentially playing in that state’s LCFS and D3 RIN markets, in addition to the market for gasoline.

“What I would like to see us do is have an offtaker that plays in all three of those products – so if I can go to Shell Trading, or bp, or Vitol, and get one of them to say, ‘here’s a price,’ and they take all of that exposure and optionality,” Miller said, “that allows me to finance the project without having to manage a whole bunch of different commodity exposures and risk.”

Bakersfield 

The Bakersfield project, estimated to cost $235m to build, will utilize 450 tons per day of agricultural waste to produce gasoline, and sequester CO2 via California Resources’ carbon management company, Carbon TerraVault, a joint venture with Brookfield Renewable.

Because of the carbon sequestration, the project will qualify for incentives under 45Q, but since it is producing, in Miller’s words, “deeply carbon-negative gasoline,” most of the value for the project will come from California’s LCFS program.

In order to qualify for LCFS credits, the Bakersfield facility goes through the full GREET modeling process – including transport of feedstock, processing and refining, and transport away from the facility – returning a negative 125 grams equivalent per MJ carbon intensity score for the project, according to Miller.

As for investors, Verde “would like to see both California Resources and Brookfield Renewable in the project, either individually or through the Carbon TerraVault JV,” Miller said.

Verde is also in discussions with a handful of financial players, including infrastructure and pension funds that are looking for bond-like cash flow that a project finance model can provide. The company has also explored the municipal bond market in California, which would bring to bear a favorable capital structure for the project, Miller said.

Verde is not currently working with a project finance advisor, Miller said, noting that they have in-house project finance experience. In Texas, Verde is working with Vinson & Elkins as its law firm; and in California Verde is working with Orrick as counsel.

Gasoline runway

For the Diamondback facility in West Texas, which requires roughly $325m of capex, both Verde and Diamondback will take equity stakes in the project, and Verde will seek to bring in debt financing to fund the rest of the project costs in a non-recourse project finance deal, Miller said.

The Permian project seeks to provide a pathway to monetize stranded gas in the basin by taking advantage of and alleviating its lack of takeaway capacity, which causes gas prices at the Waha Hub in West Texas to trade at a significant discount to the Henry Hub price.

“Diamondback would take the position that any gas that’s getting consumed in the Permian Basin is gas that’s not getting flared in the Permian Basin,” Miller said, thus making the project a emissions-mitigating option. “There will never be enough natural gas takeaway capacity out of the Permian Basin,” he added, noting that driller profiles are only going to get gassier as time goes on.

Diamondback, for example, produces more in the Permian than it can take out via pipeline, therefore “finding a use, a different exposure, for that gas by turning it into gasoline, is of value for them,” Miller said.

“It’s the same dynamic in the Marcellus and Bakken and Uinta – all the pipeline-constrained basins,” he added, alluding to possible future expansion to those basins.

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