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Mabanaft and Hapag-Lloyd sign MoU to evaluate options for the supply of ammonia as bunker fuel

The German companies will assess the viability of clean ammonia as a bunker fuel at the ports of Hamburg, Germany and Houston, USA.

Mabanaft GmbH & Co. KG and Hapag-Lloyd AG have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to evaluate options for the supply of ammonia as bunker fuel to Hapag-Lloyd in and around the Port of Hamburg, Germany and also the Port of Houston, Texas, USA.

The German companies will assess the viability of and the options for the safe handling of clean ammonia as a bunker fuel in and around the Port of Hamburg. The companies will evaluate the commercial, technical, and regulatory requirements and engage with all relevant stakeholders as part of this initiative.

In a second step, a similar assessment will be done for the Port of Houston, according to a news release.

Mabanaft is in the process of developing infrastructure in Hamburg for import and supply of clean ammonia for a lead customer, along with a larger infrastructure investment program, to create a platform for low carbon fuel alternatives.

In November last year, Mabanaft announced the intention to build Germany’s first large-scale, green energy import terminal in Hamburg, together with project partner Air Products. The project is an important step towards the development of a green ammonia import and distribution infrastructure in the Port of Hamburg. Targeted to provide hydrogen to Germany in 2026, the planned import terminal is to be located at Mabanaft’s existing Blumensand terminal in the port. Furthermore, Mabanaft is a shareholder in Gulf Coast Ammonia LLC (GCA), a world-scale ammonia production facility in Texas City, Texas, scheduled for commissioning by mid-2023.

To provide the international shipping industry with a future-ready fuel option, Mabanaft is securing clean ammonia supply and exploring opportunities for the development of related bunkering infrastructure in and around the Port of Hamburg and along the United States Gulf Coast.

“We play an active role in shaping the energy transition and offer our customers innovative fuel solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Volker Ebeling, senior vice president of New Energy, Chemicals & Gas at Mabanaft. “In shipping, we intend to support that transition for example through investments in ammonia production and the development of related supply infrastructure”.

Ammonia is already a critical feedstock for the chemical industry, and it offers several advantages also in other industries, like shipping. The gas itself is not a greenhouse gas, it combusts completely without emitting any CO2, and it only releases nitrogen and water. This has prompted the first pilot tests in Norway to operate ships in a climate-friendly way using ammonia.

Tony Elliott, head of ammonia at Mabanaft, is convinced about the opportunities for ammonia in the shipping industry. “Ammonia has the potential to play an important role in decarbonising the global maritime industry. It has a higher energy density compared to, for example, pure hydrogen and is more easily transported and stored,” he said.

Hapag-Lloyd is a leading global liner shipping company involved in the transportation of containers across the world and is directly purchasing marine bunker fuels as an essential part of its operational activities. As part of its commitment to sustainability, the company is looking for reliable suppliers of zero-carbon fuels in key strategic ports.

“When produced with renewable energy, ammonia is a promising sustainable fuel that may become an integral part of the energy mix of future maritime shipping. We look forward to this partnership with Mabanaft and to jointly making progress on the industry’s path towards climate neutrality” says Jan Christensen, senior director Global Fuel Purchasing at Hapag-Lloyd.

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Imperial to invest CAD 720m to build largest renewable diesel facility in Canada

The project, at Imperial’s Strathcona refinery near Edmonton, is expected to produce more than one billion liters of renewable diesel annually.

Imperial will invest about CAD 720m (USD 560m) to move forward with construction of the largest renewable diesel facility in Canada.

The project at Imperial’s Strathcona refinery near Edmonton is expected to produce more than one billion liters of renewable diesel annually primarily from locally sourced feedstocks and could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Canadian transportation sector by about 3 million metric tons per year, as determined in accordance with Canada’s Clean Fuel Regulation.

Regulatory approval for the project is expected in the near term.

“Imperial supports Canada’s vision for a lower-emission future, and we are making strategic investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our own operations and to help customers in vital sectors of the economy reduce their emissions,” said Brad Corson, Imperial chairman, president and chief executive officer. “The investment at our Strathcona refinery will deliver immediate benefits to the local economy creating jobs and contributing to a lower-emission energy future for our employees, neighbors and communities.”

The renewable diesel project was first announced in August 2021, with the Province of British Columbia supporting this project through a Part 3 Agreement under the BC low carbon fuel standard. A significant portion of the renewable diesel from Strathcona will be supplied to British Columbia in support of the province’s plan to lower carbon emissions. Imperial also intends to use renewable diesel in operations as part of the company’s emission reduction plans.

Imperial’s renewable diesel facility will use low-carbon hydrogen produced with carbon capture and storage technology to help Canada meet low emission fuel standards. Imperial has entered into an agreement with Air Products for low-carbon hydrogen supply and is developing agreements with other third parties for biofeedstock supply. The low-carbon hydrogen and biofeedstock will be combined with a proprietary catalyst to produce premium lower-emission diesel fuel and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions relative to conventional fuels.

Site preparation and initial construction are underway. Renewable diesel production is expected to start in 2025. The project is expected to create about 600 direct construction jobs, along with hundreds more through investments by business partners.

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BlackRock investing $550m in Occidental DAC facility

BlackRock is investing in STRATOS, a DAC facility being developed by Occidental subsidiary 1PointFive.

Occidental said today that BlackRock will invest $550m on behalf of clients in the development of STRATOS, a direct air capture (DAC) facility, in Ector County, Texas.

Through a fund managed by its Diversified Infrastructure business, BlackRock has signed a definitive agreement to form a joint venture with Occidental through its subsidiary 1PointFive that will own STRATOS.

STRATOS is designed to capture up to 500,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.  Construction activities for STRATOS are approximately 30 percent complete and the facility is expected to be commercially operational in mid-2025. The project is expected to employ more than 1,000 people during the construction phase and up to 75 once operational.

“We are excited to partner with BlackRock on this transformative facility that will provide a solution to help the world reach net zero,” said Vicki Hollub, president and CEO, Occidental. “This joint venture demonstrates that Direct Air Capture is becoming an investable technology and BlackRock’s commitment in STRATOS underscores its importance and potential for the world. We believe that BlackRock’s expertise across global markets and industries makes them the ideal partner to help further industrial-scale direct air capture.”

“BlackRock is proud to partner with global energy leader Occidental to help build the world’s largest direct air carbon capture facility in Texas,” said Larry Fink, chairman and CEO, BlackRock. “Occidental’s technical expertise brings unprecedented scale to this cutting-edge decarbonization technology. STRATOS represents an incredible investment opportunity for BlackRock’s clients to invest in this unique energy infrastructure project and underscores the critical role of American energy companies in climate technology innovation.”

DAC is a technology that captures and removes large volumes of CO₂ directly from the atmosphere, which can be safely and securely stored deep underground in geologic formations. STRATOS is expected to provide cost-effective solutions that companies in hard-to-decarbonize industries can use in conjunction with their own emissions reduction programs. To date, 1PointFive has signed CO₂ removal credit purchase agreements with customers, including Amazon, Airbus, All Nippon Airways (ANA), TD Bank Group, the Houston Astros, and the Houston Texans.

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LIFTE H2 acquired by US and Canadian strategics

The US-based operations of LIFTE H2 will become the US subsidiary of a Canadian utility, while its custom Asset Performance Management platform has been acquired by a separate US hydrogen strategic.

The US-based operations and infrastructure solutions of LIFTE H2 will become the US subsidiary of Canada’s Powertech Labs, according to the companies.  

Headquartered in British Columbia, Powertech Labs is a subsidiary of the government-owned BC Hydro.

Separately, the company’s digital Asset Performance Management platform has been acquired by Massachusetts-based Electric Hydrogen.

Resource reported in April that Energy & Industrial Advisory Partners had been hired to help LIFTE H2 conduct a Series A.

Powertech USA, the new subsidiary, will serve the US and Canadian markets.

“Powertech USA will provide a family of infrastructure solutions including hydrogen export systems, high-capacity transport trailers, mobile refuelers, and fueling stations,” a post on LinkedIn states. “Together, these solutions form the market’s first end-to-end hydrogen fueling solution – integrating the movement of hydrogen from the production outlet to the vehicle inlet.”

Powertech USA will be led by Angie Ackroyd, LIFTE’s co-founder and chief technology officer, according to Lifte’s website. Jeremy Maunus, LIFTE’s COO, along with Matthew Blieske, LIFTE’s CEO, will continue to support the Powertech USA team in advisory roles.
The post describes the management platform as a synchronized workspace designed to manage hydrogen data, assets, and people. 

LIFTE H2 will continue operations in Europe. The company has offices in Berlin.

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Former Denbury executive targeting growth through CCS at industrial emitters

Tracy Evans, a former COO of Denbury Resources, has launched a business unit aimed at offering carbon capture and sequestration services for existing industrial emitters.

CapturePoint, a Texas-based carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery specialist, is seeking to grow by offering carbon capture services to existing industrial emitters.

The company, started with an initial focus on enhanced oil recovery operations using CO2, has launched a subsidiary called CapturePoint Solutions to capitalize on growing demand for carbon capture services at industrial plants, CEO Tracy Evans said in an interview.

Evans, a former chief operating officer of Denbury Resources, has years of experience operating CO2 capture units, pipelines, and oil wells. “The only difference between EOR utilization and sequestration is going to the saline aquifers,” he said of the pivot.

The company’s primary focus is on existing emissions, Evans said, emphasizing the immediate opportunity over proposed plants that might take many years to build. He added that the company would target “pure” sources of CO2 versus diluted sources.

Evans brought in a JV equity partner for the CCS business, but declined to name them. He said the company is sufficiently capitalized for now but might need to raise additional equity as it signs up new projects in the next 12 to 16 months.

Tax equity and CCS

CapturePoint recently completed a tax equity deal for a CCS facility that has been operational since 2013, thanks to changes to provisions governing the use of 45Q for carbon capture that allowed existing plants to qualify if they capture over 500,000 tons of CO2.

The deal, at CVR Partners’ Coffeyville fertilizer plant, opened up an initial payment of $18m and includes installment payments, payable quarterly until March 31, 2030, totaling up to approximately $22m.

An ethanol facility where CapturePoint operates will also qualify for 45Q benefits because 80% or more of the carbon capture unit is being rebuilt, Evans said. The company was able to finance the new construction at the ethanol facility from cash flow out of its oil & gas operations.

Going forward, new projects installed at existing emitters will follow a project finance model, with equity, debt, and 45Q investors, Evans said. The company will use a financial advisor when the time is right, the executive noted, but said there’s more work to be done on sizing and costs before an advisor is lined up.

“The capture costs are similar for each site,” he said. “The pipeline distances to a sequestration site is what drives significant variation in total capital costs.”

Evans believes that tax credit increases in the Inflation Reduction Act – from $35 per ton to $60 per ton for CO2 used in EOR, and $50 per ton to $85 for CO2 sequestration – should help the CCS market evolve and lead to additional deals.

“There wasn’t much in it for the emitter at $35 and $50, to be honest,” he said, “whereas at $60 and $85 there’s something in it for the emitter.”

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Methanol-to-hydrogen firm planning capital raise

An early-stage provider of distributed methanol-to-hydrogen solutions is planning a capital raise as it scales up.

Kaizen Clean Energy, a Houston-based methanol-to-hydrogen fuel company, is planning to raise additional capital in support of upcoming projects.

The company, which uses methanol and water to produce hydrogen with modular units, recently completed a funding round led by Balcor Companies, in which Balcor took a minority interest in Kaizen.

Additional funding in the capital raise was provided by friends and family, Kaizen co-founder and chief commercial officer Eric Smith said in an interview.

But with its sights on larger project opportunities this year, the company is already targeting an additional capital raise to support continued growth, Smith said. He declined to comment further on the capital raise and potential advisors, but noted that the company’s CFO, Craig Klaasmeyer, is a former Credit Suisse banker.

Kaizen’s methanol model utilizes a generator license from Element 1 and adds in systems to produce power or hydrogen, targeting the diesel generator market, EV charging and microgrids as well as hydrogen fueling and industrial uses.

Compared to trucking in hydrogen, the model using methanol, an abundant chemical, cuts costs by around 50%, Smith said, noting that Kaizen’s containers are at cost parity with diesel.

In addition, the Kaizen container is cleaner than alternatives, producing no nitric or sulfur oxide, according to Smith. Its carbon intensity score is 45, compared to 90 for the California electric grid and 100 for diesel generators.

Smith also touts a streamlined permitting process for Kaizen’s containerized product. The company recently received a letter of exemption for the container from a California air district due to low or no emissions. The product similarly does not require a California state permit and similarly, when off grid, no city permits are required, he added.

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Exclusive: Zero-emission locomotive start-up in Series B capital raise

A locomotive start-up focused on the US market for zero-emission freight trains is undergoing a Series B capital raise, with sights on a much larger Series C raise next year.

OptiFuel Systems, a provider of zero-emission line haul locomotives and generation solutions, is conducting a $30m Series B capital raise.

The South Carolina-based firm is seeking to finalize the Series B by the end of this year, and plans to use proceeds to advance production of its zero-emission technologies for the rail industry, which represents a massive decarbonization opportunity, CEO Scott Myers said in an interview.

Meanwhile, the firm will seek to tap the market for around $150m for a Series C next year, Myers added. The company is not working with a financial adviser. 

While the Series B will focus on bringing to production some of OptiFuel’s smaller rail offerings, such as the switcher locomotives, the Series C will be mostly dedicated to progressing testing, manufacturing, and commercialization of its larger line haul locomotive.

The company is also considering making its own investments into digesters for RNG facilities, from which it would source the gas to run its RNG-fueled locomotives. As part of its offering, OptiFuel also provides refueling infrastructure, and envisions this aspect of its business to be just as profitable as selling trains.

“We anticipate that we would be the offtaker” of RNG, “and quite potentially, the producer,” Cynthia Heinz, an OptiFuel board member, said in the interview.

A systems integrator, OptiFuel offers modular locomotives for the freight industry that can run on zero-emission technology such as renewable natural gas, batteries, and hydrogen. The company recently announced that it will begin testing of its RNG line haul locomotive, which is a 1-million-mile test program that will take two years and require 10 RNG line haul locomotives.

Image: OptiFuel

The company’s target market is the 38,000 operating freight trains in the U.S., 25,000 of which are line haul locomotives run by operators like BASF, Union Pacific, and CSX. Fleet owners will be required to phase out diesel-powered trains starting next decade following passage of in-use locomotive requirements in California, which includes financial penalties for pollution and eventual restrictions on polluting locomotives. Other states are evaluating similar measures.

“The question is not will the railroads change over: they have to,” Myers said. “The question is, how fast?”

Following completion of testing, OptiFuel aims to begin full production of the line haul locomotive – which has a price tag of $5.5m per unit – in 2028, and is aiming to produce 2,000 per year as a starting point. The smaller switcher units are priced between $1.5m and $2.5m depending on horsepower.

OptiFuel has held discussions with Cummins, one of its equipment providers, to source at least 2,000 engines per year from Cummins to support its production goal. 

“That’s a $10bn-a-year market for us,” Myers added.

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