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OCI: Blue ammonia CI on par with green ammonia under CBAM

The carbon intensity for blue ammonia from OCI’s Beaumont, Texas project is expected to be similar to green ammonia under the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, OCI CEO Ahmed El-Hoshy said today.

The blue ammonia produced at OCI’s Texas Blue ammonia plant will garner the same carbon intensity scores under CBAM as green ammonia when the facility’s compressors run on renewable electricity.

The facility, which is expected to begin operations next year, would capture the same economic benefit under CBAM as green ammonia – but at a lower cost – since Europe’s levy on carbon emissions for certain imported products only includes scope one and two emissions, OCI CEO Ahmed El-Hoshy said today.

Under the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, or CBAM, our greenfield ammonia plant will capture effectively the same economic benefit as green ammonia, but at materially lower cost, making this greenfield blue ammonia the most cost-competitive product for low-carbon ammonia today,” he said.

The bulk of blue ammonia carbon emissions are due to the upstream methane slip for natural gas that’s being consumed – considered scope three emissions, he added.

“Therefore, if OCI’s blue ammonia were to be made with renewable electricity, as is currently contemplated, the CO2 footprint focusing on just scope 1 and scope 2 would give it a CBAM threshold almost equivalent to green ammonia.”

The executive has previously detailed his belief that the implementation of CBAM starting in 2026 will provide an avenue for a structural premium for blue ammonia products. OCI’s Texas blue ammonia facility and other assets are part of a re-launched strategic review process being led by Morgan Stanley.

El-Hoshy went on to detail his expectations for sources of demand for ammonia in the US and Europe as well as Asia and for marine fuels. He added that the recently published guidance for sustainable aviation fuel in the US could provide additional demand pull.

“For the first time in any federal and state biofuel program, climate smart agricultural practices including the use of sustainable fertilizers are now included as a lever to to lower the carbon intensity of sustainable aviation fuel and creative value,” he said. “This guidance to properly include low carbon fertilizers will potentially provide significant regulatory value for low carbon ammonia and materially benefit OCI on domestic low carbon sales over time.”

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Developer planning $3.2bn methanol plant in Louisiana

Morgan Stanley is advising a developer expecting to take a final investment decision on a methanol plant with carbon capture by the middle of this year.

Lake Charles Methanol II, LLC (LCM) announced plans to invest $3.24 billion to construct a new manufacturing plant that will produce low-carbon intensity methanol and other chemicals at the Port of Lake Charles.

The company plans to use advanced auto thermal gas reforming technology and employ carbon capture and secure geologic storage to produce low-carbon hydrogen for conversion to methanol, according to a news release.

The project, which was first proposed in 2015, was originally going to gasify petroleum coke and convert it to methanol. It pivoted in 2022, and it submitted a new application to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality in October 2023.

The developer previously said it has a long-term agreement to sequester its captured CO2 with Denbury Resources.

According to its website, LCM is being advised by Morgan Stanley on the process to raise equity for the project, and has a commitment to carry the project to FID, expected in mid-2024. It is also negotiating with the DOE for debt financing.

The proposed facility would reform natural gas and renewable gas feedstocks into hydrogen, while capturing carbon dioxide, which would then be used to produce about 3.6 million tons per year of methanol. Lake Charles Methanol plans to work with a third party to capture and sequester about 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, which would reduce the carbon intensity of the hydrogen for synthesis into low carbon intensity methanol.

“The project will deliver substantial tangible economic benefits to local communities while providing an environmentally beneficial blue methanol product to facilitate the transition to low-carbon chemicals and fuels,” LCM President Don Maley said. “With the strong support of state and local officials and the local community, we believe that Lake Charles is a fantastic location for this project and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to bring it to fruition.”

The project is currently undergoing a FEED study and regulatory permitting. Construction and commissioning of the facility are expected to take about three-and-a-half years, which would allow commercial operations to begin in late 2027.

To secure the project in Louisiana, LED offered a competitive incentives package that includes the comprehensive workforce development solutions of LED FastStart. It also includes a Performance-Based Grant of $5 million to be used for reimbursement of company expenditures for infrastructure needs. The company is also expected to participate in Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption and Quality Jobs programs.

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Fortescue buys Phoenix hydrogen project for $24m

FFI has invested $24m to acquire the Phoenix Hydrogen Hub from an affiliate of Nikola.

Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) has made its first major move in the United States following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, investing $24m to acquire a 100% interest in Phoenix Hydrogen Hub, LLC (PHH), according to a news release.

FFI is acquiring PHH from an affiliate of Nikola Corporation.

PHH is developing a proposed green hydrogen project located near Phoenix, in the city of Buckeye, Arizona. Phase One of the PHH project is planned to be an 80 MW electrolyzer and liquefaction facility, capable of producing up to 12,000 tonnes of liquified green hydrogen annually, which can displace the equivalent of 10 million gallons of diesel consumption per year. The PHH project has further capacity to scale up production to help meet future demand.

FFI CEO Mark Hutchinson said FFI’s investment in the PHH has the potential to create hundreds of jobs. First production of green hydrogen from the PHH project is expected by the middle of this decade.

“FFI is actively expanding its U.S. presence and strengthening its position as a leading global developer of green energy production and technology,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“This investment by FFI will greatly strengthen one of the country’s first and most important hydrogen ecosystems and it is a significant milestone in creating the all-important local connective infrastructure to accelerate the use of green hydrogen,” he added in the news release.

Nikola provides zero-emissions transportation and energy supply and infrastructure solutions.

Nikola, whose trucks are manufactured in Coolidge, Arizona, will be a potential customer of liquified green hydrogen from the hub to support the deployment of its heavy-duty, zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and hydrogen refuelling stations in California and the U.S. Southwest.

“Nikola’s priority is to see more zero-emission trucks on the road and this investment by FFI will greatly strengthen one of the country’s first and most important hydrogen hubs,” said Nikola Corporation President and CEO, Michael Lohscheller.

The large-scale deployment of hydrogen as a zero-emission fuel into the transportation sector is expected to benefit not only from the hydrogen tax credit in the Inflation Reduction Act, but also state level incentives such as the Low Carbon Fuel Standard in California.

Buckeye Mayor, Eric Osborn said: “Buckeye is committed to attracting clean energy businesses to the city, especially near the Sustainable Valley area. This facility adds to our ‘green’ portfolio making Buckeye the perfect location for similar technologies to expand and grow in our community.”

Sandra Watson, President and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, said: “FFI’s investment further establishes Arizona as a national hydrogen leader. FFI will advance Arizona’s efforts to create a clean hydrogen ecosystem and build upon initiatives among industry and academia, including the Southwest Clean Hydrogen Innovation Network (SHINe), which is focused on developing a Southwest clean hydrogen hub.

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Veteran legal advisor joins new firm

Mona Dajani, a veteran legal advisor heavily involved in hydrogen dealmaking, has left Pillsbury Winthrop for a new role.

Mona Dajani, a prominent legal advisor in infrastructure, mobility, renewables and water, has left Pillsbury Winthrop to become global head of renewables, hydrogen and ammonia at Shearman & Sterling, according to a post on LinkedIn.

She will take a dual title as global co-head of energy and infrastructure at the firm as well.

Her post mentions Jorge Medina, partner and head of renewables at Shearman, who is also leaving Pillsbury for a new role.

In numerous public appearances Dajani has been bullish on the proliferation of blue hydrogen as a transition fuel and the use of renewable natural gas. Her clients have included major multinationals and US energy producers.

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Exclusive: Pan-Atlantic developer planning e-methanol project in West Texas

A clean fuels developer with projects on both sides of the Atlantic is pursuing an e-methanol project in West Texas with an estimated cost of between $800m – $900m.

Green fuels developer ETFuels is planning an e-methanol project in West Texas.

Following the blueprint of projects in development in Finland and Spain, ETFuels has leased land and the Lone Star State is in the early stages of determining the feasibility of the project, which would require between 300 MW – 500 MW of renewables, Director Patrick Woodson said.

Depending on the ultimate size of the project, it would cost between $800m – $900m and produce 80,000 to 120,000 tons per year of e-methanol on site, he said, which would then be trucked to end markets.

“We like the modularity of projects of that size,” he said, noting “more optionality to bring projects to market.”

Woodson, the former CEO and Chairman of E.ON Climate & Renewables, a renewables developer, said ETFuels would develop the renewables portion of the project internally.

The company is still exploring likely target markets for the e-fuels, but Woodson noted that they perceive robust demand for green methanol from the shipping industry.

“We understand the decarbonization challenges faced by the shipping industry are significant, with question marks over pricing and supply availability at scale, and we are addressing these head-on,” ETFuels CEO Lara Naqushbandi said in a news release last year.

ETFuels attracted financial backing last year from France-based SWEN Capital Partners, with Green Giraffe providing financial advisory services.

For its Spain project, the company is developing a 100,000 ton green methanol plant, including 420 MW of solar PV and 120 MW of onshore wind capacity powering 220 MW of electrolyzers.

It expects to take a final investment decision on the Spain project by 2025, with production anticipated for 2028, according to the company website.

ETFuels as a third project in development in Finland, powered by “relentless” Arctic winds.

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Exclusive: CO2-to-SAF tech firm in new capital raise

A technology company with a novel process to convert CO2 into fuels and chemicals is extending a capital raise that previously closed with inputs from several oil and airline majors.

OXCCU, the UK-based clean fuels production company, is extending a Series A raise it closed last year with an eye on growth in the US, CEO Andrew Symes told ReSource. 

The raise, characterized as a Series A2 by Symes, is being conducted in-house, he said. It builds on the GBP 18m (USD 22.7m) Series A it finished last year, led by Clean Energy Ventures.

Aramco, ENI and United Airlines are also among the company’s backers.

OXCCU, a spin out of Oxford University, plans to raise additional money to scale its catalytic process converting hydrogen and carbon dioxide into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and other products. A patent grant, filed in 2020, is anticipated this year.

“We don’t want to be the project developer, we want to license to the project developer,” Symes said of the company’s business model.

Fuel made combining carbon dioxide (captured from industry or power plants) with green or clean hydrogen will be cheaper based on OXCCU’s iron-catalyst process, Symes said, which requires one step instead of the traditional two-step process.

OXCCU is looking for partners to engage with on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) projects in the US, Symes said. This year the company will deliver a pilot plant in the US and plans to complete a 160 kilogram-per-day plant in Sheffield, UK in 2026.

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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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