Resource logo with tagline

Trafigura upsizes NorthAm commodities facility, adds low-carbon feedstocks and fuels

Trafigura closed on a $4.45bn credit facility that will support growth of its market share in hydrocarbons, transition and renewable fuels as well as power and carbon credits.

Trafigura Trading, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Trafigura Group Pte Ltd, a market leader in the global commodities industry, has renewed its North American Energy Borrowing Base Credit Facility, according to a news release.

Trafigura launched a two-year, $4.25bn facility in April 2023 and received over $4.5bn in total commitments.

Following a strongly oversubscribed syndication, Trafigura closed the largest facility in the North American commodity finance market at $4.54bn, according to the release. The increased liquidity positions Trafigura to continue growing its market share in trading hydrocarbons, transition and renewable fuels, power and carbon credits.

Trafigura continues to be one of the largest domestic marketer and exporter of crude and petroleum products in North America, supported by its extensive network and logistic assets, as well as its access to crude oil from Canada, Bakken, PRB, DJ Basin, Eagle Ford to the Permian Basin.

Trafigura’s North American Chief Financial Officer, TJ Tedla, said: “Immediately after releasing our record six-month interim results for the period ending Mar 31, 2023, we achieved a successful syndication of our North America Energy flagship facility. The strong oversubscribed commitment from our financing partners is a testament of their confidence in our ability to respond to the strong demand for our services amid challenging market conditions and continued disruption to the movement of vital resources around the world. The facility has also been enhanced to allow the financing of low-carbon feedstocks and fuels.”

Acting Lead Arrangers and Joint Book-runners were MUFG (also acting as Administrative Agent and Collateral Agent), Société Générale, and Natixis, New York Branch. Also, Société Générale, Natixis, Mizuho Bank, Ltd., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, and Cooperative Rabobank U.A., New York Branch acted as Syndication Agents.

Unlock this article

The content you are trying to view is exclusive to our subscribers.
To unlock this article:

You might also like...

Carbon removal firm spins out of UCLA contracted with Boeing

Equatic has a pre-purchase agreement with Boeing for its carbon-negative hydrogen and currently operates two carbon removal pilots in Los Angeles and Singapore.

Carbon removal company Equatic recently spun out from the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering’s Institute for Carbon Management to deploy the first technology combining CO2 removal and carbon-negative hydrogen generation, according to a news release.

Alongside the launch, Equatic is announcing that it has entered into a pre-purchase option agreement with Boeing, a leading global aerospace company. Under the agreement, Equatic will remove 62,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide and will deliver 2,100 metric tons of carbon-negative hydrogen to Boeing.

“The oceans are the world’s largest reservoir of carbon dioxide. One quarter of the world’s daily CO2 emissions are drawn down into the ocean,” the release states. “Equatic’s technology accelerates and amplifies this natural cycle to remove and durably store CO2. The entire removal and sequestration process happens within the boundaries of an industrial carbon removal plant, enabling Equatic to precisely measure CO2.”

Equatic currently operates two carbon removal pilots in Los Angeles and Singapore. One hundred percent of the CO2 removed from these pilots has been pre-sold, including via pre-purchase agreements with global payment solution provider, Stripe.

Equatic expects to reach 100,000 metric tons of carbon removal per year by 2026 and millions of metric tons of carbon removal for less than $100 per metric ton by 2028.

“Furthermore, Equatic will become a dominant producer of carbon-negative hydrogen — hydrogen created from processes that reduce atmospheric CO2,” the release states. “The hydrogen will be sold as a clean energy source to decarbonize industrial processes, produce electricity for the transportation sector, create Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) and fuels for trucking, and power the Equatic technology itself.”

Equatic emerges from UCLA with over $30m in initial funding including grants and equity investments from organizations such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, the National Science Foundation, YouWeb Incubator, The Nicholas Endowment, Singapore’s Temasek Foundation, PUB: Singapore’s National Water Agency, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

Read More »

Certarus to supply Michigan gas plant with hydrogen

Over a two-week test, Certarus’ mobile energy distribution platform supplied 1,000+ kilograms of hydrogen at blend rates up to 25%.

Certarus, the Calgary-based on-road low carbon energy solutions, has been selected by WEC Energy Group to supply hydrogen and blending equipment to the A.J. Mihm natural gas-fired power plant near Pelkie, Michigan, according to a press release.

WEC is joined by partners Wärtsilä Corp., Mostardi Platt, the Electric Power Research Institute, and EPC firm Burns & McDonnell.

Over the course of a two-week test, Certarus’ mobile energy distribution platform successfully supplied more than 1,000 kilograms of hydrogen at blend rates up to 25% in an 18 MW Wärtsilä natural gas engine.

During that test, the hydrogen blend generated efficient power to support full engine capacity and produced fewer carbon dioxide and methane emissions compared to natural gas.

EPRI supported the development of the project and led the technical implementation. That company will share a complete analysis of the project in early 2023.

Certarus has supported more than 20 hydrogen customers to date.

Read More »

Nebraska hydrogen outfit raises $300m

Monolith, a developer of clean hydrogen, carbon black and ammonia, has raised $300m in an investment round led by TPG Rise Climate.

Monolith, a developer of clean hydrogen, carbon black and ammonia, has raised $300m, according to a press release.

The investment was led by TPG Rise Climate, the dedicated climate investing strategy of TPG’s global impact investing platform TPG Rise, and joined by Decarbonization Partners, a partnership between BlackRock and Temasek, as co-lead. Additional investment was also received from NextEra Energy Resources, SK, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America and Azimuth Capital Management.

J.P. Morgan Securities and Goldman Sachs acted as placement agents.

The existing investor group, including Azimuth Capital Management, Cornell Capital and Warburg Pincus will retain their majority ownership stake in the company.

Monolith, based in Nebraska, produces essential materials including hydrogen and carbon black through methane pyrolysis. The company says it was the first U.S. manufacturer to produce clean hydrogen using methane pyrolysis at scale.

South Korea’s SK Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding last October with Monolith to produce hydrogen and carbon black in that country. It also generated a collaboration agreement and letter of intent with The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company late in 2021.

This latest round of funding will be applied toward further technological development that will offer next generation product capabilities and other corporate-level expansion. It will also enable Monolith’s continued development of a deep backlog of clean hydrogen, ammonia and carbon projects with industry leading partners.

The company also received conditional approval for a more than USD 1bn loan from the Department of Energy Loan Programs Office to expand its production facilities in Nebraska.

Read More »
Recource
exclusive

Turnt up about turndown ratios

Optimizing electrolysis for renewables depends not just on how far you can turn the machine up, but how far you can turn it down. We asked electrolyzer makers: how low can you go?

Optimizing electrolysis for renewables depends not just on how far you can turn the machine up, but how far you can turn it down.

A consensus is growing around the importance of turndown ratios for electrolyzers, with a variety of use cases for green hydrogen requiring the machines to be run at low levels during periods of high power pricing.

Proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers are known for their ability to quickly ramp production up and down, but manufacturers of all stripes have begun to tout their technologies’ turndown ratios, with implications for capital costs and the levelized cost of producing hydrogen from renewable power.

Simply put, some electrolyzer plant operators will likely seek to lower hydrogen production during periods of high power pricing, since the cost of electricity is the largest operating expense. But cycling the electrolyzers completely off and on can lead to added system degradation, giving importance to the ability of the machines to run at low levels.

A study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analyzes a US grid buildout through 2050, noting favorable locations and seasonality for power pricing as something of a guideline for green hydrogen development. The study notes that the lowest achievable turndown ratio is a main factor in minimizing hydrogen levelized cost along with the number of hours a system can operate at that minimum level – something that applies to all types of electrolyzers.

“When you start to look at hourly costs from the data in different locations, you see that all of this renewable buildout is going to create opportunities in given locations where you going to have a lot of renewable generation and not a lot of load on the system and that’s going to drive the cost for that energy down,” said Alex Badgett, an author of the study at NREL.

To be sure, the fast-moving technological environment for electrolysis leaves open the possibility for efficiency gains and disruptive innovation. And a variety of factors – balance of plant, energy efficiency, system degradation – also influence plant economics. But the lowest possible turndown ratios will drive opportunities for green hydrogen developers, Badgett said.

ReSource reviewed available spec sheets for electrolyzer providers and asked every maker of PEM and SOEC systems to detail the turndown capabilities of their machines. Alkaline electrolyzers were left out of the analysis given their more limited load flexibility, as their separators are less effective at preventing potentially dangerous cross-diffusion of gasses. Some manufacturers are fully transparent regarding turndown ranges while others declined to comment or did not reply to inquiries.

‘Not trivial’

In designing projects, developers are analyzing hourly energy supply schedules and pairing the outlook with what is known about available technology options.

“Some electrolyzers like to operate at half power, and others like to operate at full power, and in any given system, you can have between 10 and 50 electrolyzers wired and plumbed in parallel,” said Mike Grunow, who leads the Power-to-X platform at Strata Clean Energy.

“Our thought process even goes down to: let’s say you have to operate the H2 plant at 25% throughput. Do you operate all of the electrolyzers at 25%, or do you turn 75% of the electrolyzers off and only operate 25% at full power?”

The difference in the schemes, he added, is “not trivial as each technology has different efficiency curves and drivers of degradation.”

Different use cases for the hydrogen derivative, meanwhile, lead to different natural selection of technologies, Grunow said, adding that the innovation cycle is now happening every 12 months, requiring a close eye on advances in technology. 

Electrolyzer start-up Electric Hydrogen, a maker of PEM electrolyzers, is commercializing a 100 MW system that can turn down to 10%, according to Jason Mortimer, SVP of global sales at the company.

HyAxium, another start-up, can turn its system down to 10%, according to its materials. Norway-based Hystar, which recently announced plans to build a plant in the US, also promotes a 10% turndown ratio.

A more established PEM electrolyzer provider, Cummins, advertises turndown ratios of 5% for its machines. Sungrow Power, a China-based manufacturer, similarly advertises 5% for PEM electrolyzers.

Siemens Energy has a minimum turndown ratio per stack of 40%, but for a single system it can be less in exceptional cases, according to Claudia Nehring, a company spokesperson.

“We focus on large systems” – greater than 100 MW – “and currently consider this value to be appropriate, taking into account the optimization between efficiency, degradation and dynamics, but are working on an improvement,” she said via email.

ITM Power declined to provide details but said its turndown capabilities are “to be expected” for a market leader in this technology. Materials from German-based H-Tec Systems note a modulation rate down to 10%.

Additional PEM makers Nel, Ohmium, Elogen, H2B2, Hoeller Electrolyzer, Plug Power, Shanghai Electric, and Teledyne Energy Systems did not respond to requests for information.

PEM alternatives

Other forms of electrolysis can also ramp dynamically. And some project developers point to PEM’s use of iridium, part of the platinum metals family, as a drawback due to potential scarcity issues.

Verdagy, for example, has developed an advanced alkaline water electrolysis (AWE) system called eDynamic that it says takes the best of PEM and alkaline technologies while designing out the downsides.

The company’s technology “addresses the barriers that limited traditional AWE adoption by using single-element cells that can operate efficiently at high current densities,” executives said in response to emailed questions. 

“The ability to operate at very high current densities, coupled with a balance of stack and balance of plant optimized for dynamic operation, allow Verdagy’s electrolyzers to operate across a very broad range spanning 0.1-2.0 A/cm2,” they said.

In other words, the machine can turn down to 5%, part of the design that enables operators “to modulate production to take advantage of time-of-day pricing and/or fluctuations in energy production.”

Meanwhile, German-based Thysenkrupp Nucera, another maker of advanced water electrolyzers, advertises a 10% turndown ratio.

SOEC

A relatively new electrolysis technology, the solid oxide electrolyzer cell has also proven to be capable of low turndown ratios. Solid oxide electrolysis is particularly attractive when paired with high-temperature industrial processes, where heat can be captured and fed back into the high-temperature SOEC process, making it more efficient.

Joel Moser, the CEO of First Ammonia, said he chose SOEC from Denmark-based Haldor Topsoe in part because the machines can be turned completely off with no degradation, as long as you keep them warm.

“Generally speaking we expect to ramp up and ramp down between 100% and 10%,” he said. “We can turn them off as long as we keep them warm, and then we can turn them right back on.”

Still, SOEC systems are not without challenges.

“Low stack power and high operating temperature, which in turn requires more ancillary equipment to operate the electrolyzer, are widely viewed as the main drawbacks of SOEC technology,” according to a report from the Clean Air Task Force, which explores SOEC technology and its commercial prospects. “SOEC systems are also considered to have a shorter operating life due to thermal stress.”

Additional makers of SOEC machines Bloom Energy, Ceres, Elcogen, Genvia, SolydERA, and Toshiba did not respond to inquiries.

At NREL, researchers are watching for more automation and scale in the electrolyzer production process to bring costs down. Increasing efficiency through balance-of-plant improvements is another opportunity to reduce system costs.

In addition, more analysis of how large electrolyzer projects will impact the future electrical grid is required, according to Badgett.

The NREL team modeled the hourly marginal cost at any given time in any location in the US, but the model assumes that the electrolyzer takes energy without impacting the cost of energy.

“When we start to get to gigawatt-scale electrolysis,” he said, “that’s going to significantly impact prices, as well as how the grid is going to build out.”

Read More »
exclusive

Green ammonia provider looking to US for growth

A European green ammonia solutions provider is considering a number of strategies to grow in the US, including capital raising, strategic partnerships and a spinoff.

Proton Ventures, a provider of small-scale green ammonia solutions based in Holland, is considering several possibilities for growing its presence in the US, founder Hans Vrijenhoef said on the sidelines of the World Hydrogen Summit in Rotterdam.

Vrijenhoef, who also serves as president of the Ammonia Energy Association, founded Proton Ventures in 2000 after speaking to John Holbrook, an early proponent of ammonia as a fuel and a founder of the AEA.

Today Vrijenhoef is a minority shareholder owning one-third of the company, he said. The majority shareholder is Kees Koolen, the former CEO of Booking.com and a founding partner of EQT Ventures.

In the US the firm’s concept is to deploy its technology – small scale ammonia production – at wind farms in Midwestern states like Iowa, Kansas and the Dakotas to make fertilizer for regional farms and replace grey hydrogen in US agribusiness.

The company’s technology has also been deployed to convert flare gas at shale oil production sites in Saskatchewan into ammonia, Vrijenhoef said, adding that any energy source is applicable.

“We are in a position to deploy multiple hundreds of units in the US,” he said. “We need liquidity to do projects. We need a shareholder to come in.”

The company may have a need for a US-based M&A advisor, Vrijenhoef said. Multiple capital strategies, including a spinoff of the North American subsidiaries, are possible.

The technology is proven through a pilot project in Morocco, which has reached FID, he said. Modular ammonia units can produce between 1,000 and 20,000 tonnes, with the option to put multiple units at one site.

The company partly contracts its manufacturing in The Netherlands but could find new partnerships in the US, Vrijenhoef said. He highlighted an existing relationship with Northwest Mechanical in Davenport,Iowa.

The US subsidiary of Proton Ventures is an LLC based in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Vrijenhoef said. A Calgary-based subsidiary is called NFuelTechnologies.

Read More »
exclusive

Of CfDs and RFNBOs: Untangling the global hydrogen policy web

US ammonia and hydrogen project developers are increasingly looking to Japan and South Korea as target markets under the belief that new rules for clean hydrogen and its derivatives in Europe are too onerous.

Much fuss has been made about the importance of pending guidance for the clean hydrogen industry from US regulators. Zoom out further and major demand centers like the European Union, Japan, and South Korea have similarly under-articulated or novel subsidy regimes, leaving US clean fuels project developers in a dizzying global tangle of red tape. 

But in the emerging global market for hydrogen and ammonia offtake, several themes are turning up. One is that US project developers are increasingly looking to South Korea and Japan as buyers, turning away from Europe following the implementation of rules that are viewed as too onerous for green hydrogen producers.

The other is that beneath the regulatory tangle lies a deep market, helping to answer one of the crucial outstanding questions that has been dogging the nascent ammonia and hydrogen industry: where is the offtake? 

Many projects are proceeding towards definitive offtake agreements and final investment decisions despite the risks embedded in potential changes in policy, according to multiple project finance lawyers. In most cases, reaching final agreements for offtake would not be prudent given the raft of un-issued guidance in these major markets, said the lawyers, who acknowledge a robust offtake market but may advise their clients against signing final contracts.

The European Union rules for green hydrogen and its derivatives became law in June, and included several provisions that are proving challenging for developers and their lawyers to structure around: prohibiting state-subsidized electricity in the production of green hydrogen, and the requirement that power for green hydrogen be purchased directly from a renewable energy supplier. 

Taken together, the policy developments have pushed many US project developers away from Europe and toward Japan and South Korea, where demand for low-carbon fuels is robust and regulations are viewed as less burdensome, if still undefined, experts say.

Developers are carefully choosing jurisdictions for their target offtake markets, “limiting their focus to North Asian rather than European buyers, with the expectation that certain standards and regulations will be less strict, at least in the near term,” said Allen & Overy Partners Hitomi Komachi and Henry Sohn, who are based in Japan and Korea, respectively.

Trade association Hydrogen Europe lambasted the new European rules last year while they were still in formation, saying they would cause a “mass exodus” of the continent’s green hydrogen industry to the US.

Make or break

US policymakers delivered a shock blow with last year’s approval of the Inflation Reduction Act – but its full benefits have yet to flow into the clean fuels sector due to outstanding guidance on additionality, regionality, and matching requirements. 

At the same time, the 45V tax credit for clean hydrogen has been called potentially the most complex tax credit the US market has ever seen, requiring a multi-layered analysis to ensure compliance. The US policy uncertainty is coated on top of an already-complex development landscape facing developers of first-of-kind hydrogen and ammonia projects using electrolyzer or carbon capture technologies. 

“Even though folks are moving forward with projects, the lack of guidance impacts parties’ willingness to sign definitive documents, because depending on the guidance, for some projects, it could break the economics,” said Marcia Hook, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis in Washington DC.

Now, US developers seeking access to international markets are contending with potential misalignment of local and international rules, with Europe’s recently enacted guidelines serving as a major example of poorly arrayed schemes. 

Some US developers have already decided it may be challenging to meet the EU’s more rigorous standards, according Hook, who added that, beyond the perceived regulatory flexibility, developers appear to be garnering more offtake interest from potential buyers in Asia.

Projects that depend on outstanding guidance in Asia are also moving ahead, a fact that, according to Alan Alexander, a Houston-based partner at Vinson & Elkins, “represents a little bit of the optimism and excitement around low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia,” particularly in Japan and Korea.

“Projects are going forward but with conditions that these schemes get worked out in a way that’s bankable for the project,” he added. “It’s not optimal, but you can build it in,” he said, referencing a Korean contract where conditions precedent require that a national clean hydrogen portfolio standard gets published and the offtaker is successful in one of the  Korean power auctions.

RED III tape

Unlike the US, the EU has focused on using regulation to create demand for hydrogen and derivative products through setting mandatory RFNBO quotas for the land transport, industry, shipping and aviation sectors, according to Frederick Lazell, a London-based lawyer at King & Spalding.

Lazell called the EU rules “the most fully-developed and broad market-creation interventions that policymakers have imposed anywhere in the world.” As a result, being able to sell RFNBO into Europe to meet these quotas is expected to fetch the highest prices – and therefore potentially the highest premiums to suppliers, he said.

The European guidelines enacted in June introduced several provisions that will make it challenging for US developers to structure projects that meet the EU’s classification for renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBOs).

For one, the European Commission issued guidance that prohibits subsidies for renewable energy generation when it is transmitted via a power purchase agreement through the electrical grid to make RFNBO.

This provision potentially eliminates all green hydrogen-based projects in the US from qualifying as an RFNBO, a managing partner at a US-based investment firm said, given that green hydrogen projects will likely be tied to renewables that are earning tax credits.

“The EC’s decision to include this restriction on State aid makes the EU’s version of additionality more onerous than even the strictest requirements being considered in the US,” lawyers from King & Spalding wrote in a September note, adding that some people in the industry argue that the decision is inexplicable under the RED II framework that authorized the European Commission to define additionality. 

A second challenge of the EU regulations is the mandate that PPAs be contracted between the RFNBO producer and the renewable energy source. Such a requirement is impossible for electricity markets where state entities are mandated to purchase and supply power, a structure that is common in multiple jurisdictions. Moreover, the requirement would remove the possibility of using a utility or other intermediary to deliver power for green hydrogen production.

“These technical issues may be serious enough for some in the industry to consider challenges before the Court of Justice of the European Union,” the King & Spalding lawyers wrote. “However, it is not yet clear whether there is the appetite or ability to turn such suggestions into a formal claim.”

Go East

Although the subsidy regimes in Japan and South Korea are expected to be less stringent in comparison to the EU, the programs are still not completely defined, which leaves some uncertainty in dealmaking as projects move forward.

The traditional energy sector has always dealt with change-in-law risk, but the risk is heightened now since regulations can change more rapidly and, in some cases, impact ongoing negotiations, said Komachi and Sohn, of Allen & Overy, in a joint email response. 

“Certain regulations coming into force may be contingent or related to the funding plan of the project,” they said. As such, clean fuels offtake frameworks need to facilitate not only the tracking and counting of emissions, they added, but also leave sufficient flexibility as regulatory frameworks evolve.

Japan, through its Hydrogen Basic Strategy, set out targets to increase the supply of hydrogen and ammonia in the country while reducing costs, deploying Japanese electrolysis equipment, and increasing investment into its supply chain. Additionally, Japan is contemplating a contracts-for-difference-style regime to support the gap between the price of clean hydrogen or ammonia and corresponding fossil fuels for 15 years.

Still, standards for “clean hydrogen” have not been clarified, though most observers believe the country will follow a carbon emissions lifecycle analysis in line with IPHE criteria, which is proposed at 3.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide per kilogram of hydrogen. Similarly, rules around “stacking” subsidies in Japan with other jurisdictions such as the Inflation Reduction Act have not been defined.

Meanwhile, Korea is considering carbon emissions standards of up to 4 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of hydrogen. It is pushing for greater use of hydrogen in part through its Amended Hydrogen Act, requiring electric utilities to buy electricity made from hydrogen in a bidding round starting in 2024. The requirement scales up from 1,300 GWh of general hydrogen in 2025 to 5,200 GWh for general hydrogen and 9,5000 GWh for clean hydrogen in 2028.

Both countries are working to incentivize the entire supply chain for hydrogen and ammonia to ensure the separate pieces of infrastructure will be available on investable and bankable terms, with the aim of creating a demand center when the export centers are developed, Komachi and Sohn added.

They also point out that the emerging clean fuels offtake market will operate in the near term in a more spotty fashion in comparison with the more liquid markets for oil and gas.

“Hydrocarbon markets have gradually moved towards portfolio players, trading and optimization,” said Goran Galic, an Australia-based partner at Allen & Overy. “Smaller market size, technological and regulatory considerations mean that clean fuels, at least initially, require more of a point-to-point approach and so building long-term working relationships between the developers and offtakers is a key aspect of offtake strategy.”

Read More »

Welcome Back

Get Started

Sign up for a free 15-day trial and get the latest clean fuels news in your inbox.