US Refiners: CO2 cost curve?

Which refiners are least CO2 intensive, and which refiners are most CO2 intensive? This spreadsheet answers the question, by aggregating data from 130 US refineries, based on EPA regulatory disclosures.

The full database contains a granular breakdown, facility-by-facility, showing each refinery, its owner, its capacity, throughput, utilisation rate and CO2 emissions across six categories: combustion, refining, hydrogen, CoGen, methane emissions and NOx (chart below).

Assessed companies include Aramco, BP, Chevron, Citgo, Delek, ExxonMobil, Koch, Hollyfrontier, Marathon, Phillips66, PBF, Shell and Valero.

Tree database: forests to offset CO2?

Nature-based solutions are among the most effective ways to abate CO2. Forest offsets will cost $2-50/ton, decarboning liquid fuels for <$0.5/gallon and natural gas for <$1/mcf (chart below).

The data-file tabulates hundreds of data-points from technical papers and industry reports on different tree and grass types. It covers their growing conditions, survival rates, lifespans, rates of CO2 absorption (per tree and per acre) and their water requirements (examples below).

 

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.

Biofuel, green diesel, renewable diesel: where’s the IP?

This data-file tracks 5,000 patents filed into biofuels: by geography, by company and particularly in 2017-20. The pace of research activity into “biofuels” and “biodiesel” seems to have halved since 2014, suggesting industry interest is waning.

As usual, China has come to dominate the recent patent literature, accounting for 60% of recent filings. Out of the ‘Top 25’ patent filings from 2017-20, 15 are Chinese companies.

Ranked by recent patent filings, technology leaders include Sinopec, BASF, Arkema, Neste, TOTAL, ExxonMobil and DuPont. It is interesting that some well known companies (e.g., Ryze) did not appear to have filed many patents recently. Full details on the patent trends and filings are in the data-file.

Solar Energy: Where’s the IP?

This data-file tracks 110,000 solar patents filed by geography, by company, by year, since 2000; but particularly in 2019.

Solar patent filings peaked in 2012-13 at 11,500 patents per year. Many  geographies have since slowed by 50-90%; except China, which hit a new peak off 3,500 patents in 2019, leading the industry.

A granular breakdown for 2019 tabulates 6,000 patents, including their descriptions, which you can interrogate fully. 14 out of the top 25 solar patent filers in that year were Chinese companies.

The largest US and European patent filers are also shown. So are the Majors, which have recently filed c30 patents per year (0.5% of the total), two thirds of which can be attributed to a single SuperMajor, looking to scale up in solar.

In 2022, we have updated the analysis, in particular, tabulating more parameters of solar cell efficiency improvements, and the industry’s latest push into TOPCon cells.

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.

Solar Use within the Oil Industry?

This data-file tabulates 20 solar projects being undertaken within the oil industry, in order to clean up production and reduce emissions. More projects are needed, as the total inventory will obviate <1% of oil industry CO2 by 2025.

For each project, we estimate total TWH of power generation per annum, the CO2 emissions avoided, the timeline; and we also summarize the project details.

Leading examples include the use of concentrated solar for steam-EOR in Oman and California, Solar PV in the Permian, and leading efforts from specific companies: such as Occidental, Shell, Eni and other Majors.

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.

 

Lubricant Leaders: our top five conclusions

This data-file presents our “top five” conclusions on the lubricants industry, after reviewing 240 patents, filed by the Oil Majors in 2018. The underlying data on each of the 240 patents is also shown in the ‘LubricantPatents’ tab.

We are most impressed by the intense pace of activity to improve engine efficiencies (chart above), across  over 20 different categories. As usual, we think technology leadership will drive margins and market shares. ‘Major 1’ stands out, striving hardest to gain an edge, by a factor of 2x. ‘ Major 2 has the ‘greenest’ lubricant patents, across EVs and bio-additives. Major 4 has the single most intriguing new technology in the space.

The relative number of patents into Electric Vehicle Lubricants is also revealing. It shows the Majors’ true attitudes on electrification, in a context where they are incentivised to sell new products into the EV sector. Our lubricant demand forecasts to 2050 are also noted.

Subsea Separation: the elusive history

This database covers all 14 subsea separation projects across the history of the oil industry, going back to the “dawn of subsea” in 1969.

For each example, we tabulate the asset, region, operator, water depth, process technology, Service company, start-up year, power rating, oil capacity, gas capacity, water capacity and some notes.

What is interesting about the data is how elusive the technology’s ascent has been. Two of our projects were cancelled. The largest were 2.3MW. Subsea Boosting and Compression has been 4x more prevalent (chart below).

This matters for the Mero pre-salt field where an unprecedented, giant, 6MW subsea-separation project is being pioneered, to handle high gas and CO2 cuts.

 

Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2022.