Profile: United Oil & Gas - a startup success
United Oil & Gas recently announced in a press release that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and oil price volatility, the company is still doing well.
UO&G’s operations in Egypt were given special attention by Brian Larkin, CEO, who expressed pride and satisfaction that important projects were still being delivered successfully during a very difficult time.
These achievements include a gas pipeline in Al Jahraa, increasing productivity by almost double to 8,400 boepd (barrels of oil equivalent per day) and continuing with drilling operations in El Salmiyah.
“United's leadership team has reviewed our business in-depth and have mapped out what we believe is a sensible course through the months ahead. We are focussing on investment which we believe will deliver the most immediate return for our business,” stated Larkin.
A young contender in the industry
Although a relatively new company (it was founded in 2015), UO&G has already managed to establish an exciting range of assets around the world, including the UK, Italy, Jamaica and the aforementioned Egypt.
Starting as an independent startup comprised of former Tullow Oil staff, the company seeks to unlock the hidden profit potential inherent in non-care oil and gas licences.
Despite its global interests, UO&G chooses to keep its primary focus on Europe, owing to the leadership team’s extensive knowledge and previous experience within the region.
The company’s focused and decisive management has granted it steady progression over the years, with frequent block-awards and agreements signed over. So far in 2020, UO&G has managed to acquire exploration company Rockhopper Egypt.
Although the rest of the year will be challenging, this has not deterred UO&G from pursuing its agenda with characteristic vigour: infill-drilling in Abu Sennan, the first production from Selva Gas for later in the year and portfolio growth in Africa and South America are all scheduled.
“The economic and political uncertainty created by COVID-19 and the current low oil prices have created considerable challenges for our industry,” Larkin said.
“United's goal is to focus expenditure where it can deliver immediate benefit, maintain cashflow and emerge from this period of uncertainty in a position of strength, relative to the industry. We believe that this strategy can achieve that.”
Form Energy receives funding power for iron-air batteries
Form Energy believes it has cracked the conundrum of commercialising grid storage through iron-air batteries - and some of the biggest names in industry are backing its potential.
The startup recently announced the battery chemistry of its first commercial product and a $200 million Series D financing round led by ArcelorMittal’s XCarb innovation fund. Founded in 2017, Form Energy is backed by investors Eni Next LLC, MIT’s The Engine, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group and Macquarie Capital.
While solar and wind resources are the lowest marginal cost sources of electricity, the grid faces a challenge: how to manage the multi-day variability of renewable energy, even in periods of multi-day weather events, without sacrificing energy reliability or affordability.
Moreover, while Lithium-ion batteries are well suited to fast bursts of energy production, they run out of energy after just a few hours. Iron-air batteries, however, are predicted to have theoretical energy densities of more than 1,200 Wh/kg according to Renaissance of the iron-air battery (phys.org)
The active components of Form Energy's iron-air battery system are some of the cheapest, and most abundant materials: iron, water, and air. Iron-air batteries are the best solution to balance the multi-day variability of renewable energy due to their extremely low cost, safety, durability, and global scalability.
It claims its first commercial product is a rechargeable iron-air battery capable of delivering electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with conventional power plants and at less than 1/10th the cost of lithium-ion and can be optimised to store electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with legacy power plants.
"This product is our first step to tackling the biggest barrier to deep decarbonisation: making renewable energy available when and where it’s needed, even during multiple days of extreme weather, grid outages, or periods of low renewable generation," it states.
Mateo Jaramillo, CEO and Co-founder of Form Energy, said it conducted a broad review of available technologies and has reinvented the iron-air battery to optimise it for multi-day energy storage for the electric grid. "With this technology, we are tackling the biggest barrier to deep decarbonization: making renewable energy available when and where it’s needed, even during multiple days of extreme weather or grid outages," he said.
Form Energy and ArcelorMittal are working jointly on the development of iron materials which ArcelorMittal would non-exclusively supply for Form’s battery systems. Form Energy intends to source the iron domestically and manufacture the battery systems near where they will be sited. Form Energy’s first project is with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy, located near the heart of the American Iron Range.
Greg Ludkovsky, Global Head of Research and Development at ArcelorMittal, believes Form Energy is at the leading edge of developments in the long-duration, grid-scale battery storage space. "The multi-day energy storage technology they have developed holds exciting potential to overcome the issue of intermittent supply of renewable energy."
Investors in Form Energy's November 2020 round included Energy Impact Partners, NGP Energy Technology Partners III, and Temasek.
In May 2020, it signed a contract with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy to jointly deploy a 1MW / 150MWh pilot project to be located in Cambridge, MN. Great River Energy is Minnesota's second-largest electric utility and the fifth largest generation and transmission cooperative in the US.
Last week Helena and Energy Vault announced a strategic partnership to identify additional opportunities for Energy Vault’s waste remediation technologies as the company begins deployment of its energy storage system worldwide. It received new investment from Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV) in June.
Maoneng has revealed more details of its proposed 240MWp / 480MWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in Australia (click here).
The BESS represents hundreds of millions of dollars of investment that will improve electricity grid reliability and network stability by drawing energy from the grid during off-peak periods for battery storage, and dispatching energy to the grid during peak periods.