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As investment picks up in carbon capture, hydrogen and clean power projects, in part due to government incentives in the U.S. and abroad, energy services companies known for oilfield technologies are moving deeper into new energy.
Such talk surfaced on Baker Hughes Co.’s and SLB’s recent earnings calls as the energy technology giants shared updates on their progress. Service companies are spreading their technological know-how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency, while working toward sustainability goals.
Speaking to analysts on Jan. 23 following the release of its fourth-quarter 2022 earnings, Baker Hughes CEO Lorenzo Simonelli said the company believes it can achieve about $400 million in new energy orders in 2023, having seen significant progress in 2022 compared to the year earlier. The company’s energy technologies and services include hydrogen, carbon capture, utilization and storage, geothermal and emissions management, as well as asset management and digital innovations.
“Over the next three to four years, the new energy content should be around 10% of our gas tech orders. And as we stated previously, we believe by the end of the decade, new energy orders should be in the range of $6 billion to $7 billion,” Simonelli said, adding new energy is expected to accelerate through the second half of the decade. “Direction of travel is clear. We’ve got the investments in place into the new tech and feel good about the way in which the market segment is really creating on the back of some of the legislation.”
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the U.S. is helping to firm the outlook, Simonelli said, with new legislation potentially coming from Europe.
Signed into law in August 2022, the IRA includes about $369 billion in incentives for clean energy and climate-related spending. Its passage came as the U.S. takes steps to lower greenhouse-gas emissions 40% below 2005 levels by 2030, a move to slow climate change. Energy experts believe the law, which includes tax credits for renewable energy development, will draw more investment to the sector.
The latest earnings report marked the first under Baker Hughes’ revised organizational structure. The company shrank its four business units into two, creating the Oilfield Services & Equipment business and the Industrial & Energy Technology unit. The latter, which includes new energy alongside LNG both onshore and offshore, recorded $4.3 billion in orders during fourth-quarter 2022. New energy orders alone increased 50% to more than $400 million, compared to 2021.
One of the quarter’s orders was from Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering to supply CO2 compression equipment to Petronas’ Kasawari offshore carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project in Sarawak, Malaysia. With a capacity to reduce CO2 emissions by 3.3 million tonnes per annum, the product is expected to be among the world’s largest CCS facilities offshore.
“We continue to develop our portfolio of new energy technologies. We have been particularly active over the last few years acquiring and investing in multiple new technologies around hydrogen, carbon capture, clean power and geothermal,” Simonelli said. “We are now transitioning more towards the incubation of the existing portfolio. This will enable our new energy portfolio to achieve its full commercial potential, with a particular focus on high impact technologies like NET Power and Mosaic.”
NET Power’s technology provides low-emissions natural gas power, while Mosaic Materials—acquired by Baker Hughes last year—offers technology that captures CO2.
SLB, which reported fourth-quarter 2022 earnings on Jan. 20, is also progressing technology in its New Energy unit to strengthen its portfolio with new investments and partnerships. It focuses on carbon solutions, hydrogen, geothermal, critical minerals and energy storage.
In addition to offering services such as SLB End-to-End Emission Solutions to help oil and gas companies reduce emissions, SLB CEO Olivier Le Peuch said the company is also accelerating its R&D efforts to develop technologies that address emissions in hard-to-abate sectors.
SLB and Linde, a global gases and engineering company, built on their relationship in 2022 by agreeing to collaborate on projects that will capture and sequester CO2 emissions from the ammonia, hydrogen and natural gas sectors.
The company said it has also teamed up with nonprofit research institute RTI International to scale up its “non-aqueous solvent [NAS] technology, which enhances the efficiency of absorption-based carbon capture.”
In the geoenergy space, SLB has been working with Celsius Energy on sustainable heating and cooling in commercial buildings using energy from the earth. Meanwhile, Genvia, an SLB clean hydrogen joint venture, continues to develop electrolyzer technology that utilizes the thermal energy of waste industrial heat.
“We have a great long-term outlook on this, and more will come on this chapter,” Le Peuch said of New Energy. “But in general, we are making progress on each of these domains, be it in pilots, be it in early commercial contracts, be it in technology milestones.”
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