Ventures for an Energy Transition?

This database tabulates almost 300 venture investments made by 9 of the leading Oil Majors, as the energy industry advances and transitions.

The largest portion of activity is now aimed at incubating New Energy technologies (c50% of the investments), as might be expected. Conversely, when we first created the data-file, in early-2019, the lion’s share of historical investments were in upstream technologies (c40% of the total). The investments are also highly digital (c40% of the total).

Four Oil Majors are incubating capabilities in new energies, as the energy system evolves. We are impressed by the opportunities they have accessed. Venturing is likely the right model to create most value in this fast-evolving space.

The full database shows which topic areas are most actively targeted by the Majors’ venturing, broken down across 25 sub-categories, including by company. We also chart which companies have gained stakes in the most interesting start-ups.

Methane emissions from pneumatic devices, by operator, by basin

Methane leaks from 1M pneumatic devices across the US onshore oil and gas industry comprise 50% of all US upstream methane leaks and 15% of all upstream CO2. This data-file aggregates data on 500,000 pneumatic devices, from 300 acreage positions, of 200 onshore producers in 9 US basins.

The data are broken down acreage position by position, from high-bleed pneumatic devices, releasing an average of 4.1T of methane/device/year to pnuematic pumps and intermediate devices, releasing 1.4T, through to low-bleed pneumatic devices releasing 160kg/device/year.

It allows us to rank operators. Companies are identified, with a pressing priority to replace medium and high bleed devices. Other companies are identified with best-in-class use of pneumatics (chart below). The download contains 2018 and 2019 data, so you can compare YoY progress by company.

A summary of our conclusions is also written out in the second tab of the data-file.  For opportunities to resolve these leaks and replace pneumatic devices, please see our recent note on Mitigating Methane.

Floating production systems versus subsea tiebacks: the costs?

This model estimates the line-by-line costs of an FPSO project, across c45 distinct cost lines, in order to quantify the potential savings of a tieback or a ‘fully subsea’ development.

Our estimates drawing on four technical papers, as illustrated in the backup tabs of the model. For a full discussion, see our recent note ‘The future of offshore: fully subsea‘.

We estimate c$750M of cost savings for a tieback, and c$500M of cost savings for a fully subsea development, as compared against a traditional project with a traditional production facility.  Please download the model to see the different cost drivers, line-by-line.

Fully subsea offshore projects: the economics?

This model presents the economic impacts of developing a typical, 625Mboe offshore  gas condensate field using a fully subsea solution, compared against installing a new production facility.

Both projects are modelled out fully, to illstrate production profiles, per-barrel economics, capex metrics, NPVs, IRRs and sensitivity to oil and gas prices (e.g. breakevens).

The result of a fully offshore project is lower capex, lower opex, faster development and higher uptime, generating a c4% uplift in IRRs, a 50% uplift in NPV6 (below) and a 33% reduction in the project’s gas-breakeven price.

Please download the model to interrogate the numbers and input assumptions.

Offshore Wind Patents: Majors and Services?

This data-file tracks wind patents, across 20 traditional energy companies, comprising cap goods conglomerates, Oil Majors and Offshore Oil Services. The aim is to assess which companies have differentiated IP to benefit from the scale-up of offshore wind.

Traditional offshore-focused energy companies (ie Majors and Oil Services) are not generally found to have differentiated wind IP, comprising <2% of the offshore wind patents since 2000. 2 Majors and 2 Service companies have, however, made interesting inroads.

Covered companies include: ABB, Aker, Alstom, Aramco, BP, Cameron, Chevron, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, GE, OneSubsea, Saipem, Shell, Siemens, Subsea 7, Technip, TOTAL and Vestas.

Power from Shore: the economics?

We model the economics of powering an oil platform from shore, using cheap renewable power instead of traditional gas turbines. This can lower upstream CO2 emissions by 5-15kg/bbl, or on average, around 70%; for a base case cost of $50-100/ton.

Our numbers are derived from reviewing technical papers, plus ten prior projects (mostly in Norway), which are tabulated in the data-file, including capex figures (in $M and $/W) where disclosed.

The costs of CO2 abatement can be flexed by varying inputs to the model, such as project size, gas prices, power prices and carbon prices.


Hybrid horizons: industrial use of batteries?

Gas and diesel engines can be particularly inefficient when idling, or running at 20-30% loads. At these levels, their fuel economy can be impaired by 30-80%. This is the rationale for hybridizing engines with backup batteries: the engines are always run at efficient, 80-100% loads, including to charge up the batteries, which can better cover lower intensity energy needs.

Hybrid passenger cars are the best known example, since Toyota re-introduced them in the late 1990s. c25-30% energy savings are achieved, including through engine down-sizing and regenerative breaking

Industrial applications are also increasingly taking hold as battery costs come down, achieving even higher, 30-65% energy savings. This data-file summarizes a dozen examples, from oil and gas, marine, construction and even the machinery at LNG plants.

Northern Lights CCS: the economics?

We have modeled out simple economics for Northern Lights, the most elaborate carbon capture and storage (CCS) scheme ever proposed by the energy industry (Equinor, Shell, TOTAL).

The project involves capturing industrial CO2, liquefying it, transporting it in ships, receiving it onshore in Norway, piping it 110km offshore, then injecting it 3,000m below the seabed. Phase 1 will likely sequester 1.3-1.5MTpa, with potential expansion to 5MTpa.

Our conclusion is that Phase 1 will be expensive. However, much of the infrastructure “scales”. So phase 2 could cost 35% less, bringing the “carbon storage” component to below Europe’s carbon price. This could be promising if combined with next-generation carbon separation or decarbonised gas technologies, to lower the “carbon capture” component.

Our economic estimates can be flexed in the ‘simple model’ tab. Underlying cost calculations are substantiated in the ‘Notes’ tab.

At the cutting edge of EOR?

This data-file summarises 120 patents into Enhanced Oil Recovery, filed by the leading Oil Majors in 2018. Based on the data, we identify the “top five companies” and what they are doing at the cutting edge of EOR.

We find clear leaders for water-flooding both carbonate and sandstone reservoirs. At mature fields, we think these operators may be able to derive >10pp higher recovery factors; and by extension, lower decline rates, higher cash flows and higher margins.

As more of the world’s oilfields age, having an “edge” in EOR technology will make particular Oil Majors more desirable operators and partners, to avoid the higher costs and CO2 intensities of developing new fields to replace them.


US Offshore Wind Economics?

This model outlines the economics of an offshore wind project, based on guidance for Equinor’s flagship, 816MW “Empire Wind”: an exciting development off New York, constructing c80 x c10 MW wind turbines, each as tall as the Chrysler building.

Base case IRRs are c5%, at current wholesale power prices of 6c/kWh, although this is a punitive scenario ignoring optionalities and externalities.

IRRs could be uplifted to 10%, through a combination of power marketing, continued cost-deflation, levering the project, carbon prices and feed-in tariffs.

Download the model to flex each of these variables and test the resulting economic sensitivity. A variant of the model is also provided for a floating offshore wind farm, which requires >2x higher power prices.


Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2022.