Nauticus Robotics and Wood have entered into a strategic partnership. Image via nauticusrobotics.com

Webster-based Nauticus Robotics, a developer of offshore subsea and surface robots and software, has entered a strategic partnership with Scottish energy consulting and engineering firm Wood, which employs about 11,000 people in Houston.

Nauticus and Wood are teaming up to grab a share of the $2.5 trillion-a-year marketplace in the ocean economy.

“This is a great example of the offshore digitization effort and novel use of emerging offshore robotics. Combining these two innovations make perfect sense,” says Todd Newell, senior vice president of business development at Nauticus.

In the long term, Nauticus hopes to replace large human-operated ships that deploy submersible vehicles with its own fleet of green subsea and surface ocean-going robots. Its robots are Hydronaut, a small surface vessel that can be operated by people, and Aquanaut, a tetherless underwater robot. The technology is aimed at sectors such as offshore renewables, oil and gas, government, and aquaculture.

In December, Nauticus and Greenwich, Connecticut-based CleanTech Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC), signed a deal that would result in Nauticus becoming a public company. The SPAC merger, expected to close before June 30, would value Nauticus at $561 million.

Nauticus generated revenue of about $8.2 million in 2021. Revenue is projected to exceed $90 million in 2023. The company was founded in 2014 as Houston Mechatronics; it rebranded last year.

Wood generated more than $6.4 billion in revenue last year. It employs about 40,000 people around the world.

Among other things, the robotic capabilities will enable constant monitoring of oil and gas assets, and earlier detection of methane emissions. Photo courtesy of Wood

Robots roll into Houston operations of global energy industry giant

new fleet

Houston employees of Wood, a Scottish giant in engineering and management services, are helping drive the robot revolution in the oil and gas industry.

Wood recently received nearly $3 million in funding from Canada’s province of Newfoundland and Labrador to support development of robots that will carry out autonomous inspection and maintenance of onshore and offshore oil and gas infrastructure in that region.

“As we prepare for the transition to renewable energy, we do it knowing that oil and gas will be needed for the foreseeable future. Our government will continue to work to support the women and men who work in the oil and gas industry as we collaborate with industry to support new innovative ideas to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Andrew Furey, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, says in a news release.

Among other things, the robotic capabilities will enable constant monitoring of oil and gas assets, and earlier detection of methane emissions. Wood says that if the Canadian project succeeds, it could lead to the rollout of more robots.

Some of Wood’s robots will be roaming the show floor at this year’s Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), set for May 2-5 at NRG Park. An OTC session on May 3 will shine a light on the emerging sector of offshore robotic technologies. Rami Jabari of Houston-based ExxonMobil and Ross Doak of Shell, which has a major presence in Houston, are co-chairs of the session. Both ExxonMobil and Shell have embraced robotics in recent years.

The Houston office of Wood — which employs nearly 11,000 full-time workers locally and whose 2020 global revenue totaled $7.5 billion — has been toiling away on the robotic technology for several years. The technology already has undergone a successful pilot in Wyoming, where robots and drones have captured data to create 3D models of oil and gas assets.

“In a nutshell, this technology is making routine inspections and maintenance of assets safer and more efficient, leading to reduced carbon emissions and lower-cost sustainable operations,” according to Wood.

A key focus of the robotic technology is helping more than 100 countries that have pledged to slash methane emissions by 30 percent before 2030 compared with 2020 levels. According to the United Nations, decreasing methane emissions is one of the most cost-effective ways to achieve global goals tied to climate change.

Wood, whose U.S. locations are in Houston and Alpharetta, Georgia, isn’t the only company with strong local ties that’s innovating in robotics for the oil and gas sector.

For instance, Webster-based Nauticus Robotics specializes in offshore robotics for the oil and gas sector and other industries. Nauticus, previously branded as Houston Mechatronics, is preparing to merge with CleanTech Acquisition, a publicly traded SPAC, or special acquisition company.

The pending merger values Nauticus at $560 million. The company envisions generating revenue of more than $90 million in 2023, up from an estimated $8.2 million this year.

The first product from Nauticus, founded by former NASA engineers, is called Aquanaut.

“Aquanaut is an unmanned underwater vehicle that can transform itself from a nimble submarine designed for long-distance cruising into a half-humanoid robot capable of carrying out complex manipulation tasks. It can inspect subsea oil and gas infrastructure, operate valves, and use tools,” according to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

10+ can't miss Houston business and innovation events for May

WHERE TO BE

From pitching competitions to expert speaker summits, May is chock-full of opportunities for Houston innovators.

Here's a roundup of events you won't want to miss out on so mark your calendars and register accordingly.

Note: This post may be updated to add more events.


May 2 — State of Houston's Global Economy

Explore the complexities of Houston's global economy, dissect the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and chart a course for sustainable growth in the years to come at this business conference sponsored by the Greater Houston Partnership. Highlighting the day will be a presentation by the Partnership’s Chief Economist, Patrick Jankowski who will share his insights into the role global trade plays in the region’s growth.

Panel conversation speakers include:
  • Kurt Heim, Vice President of Environmental Advancement, Daikin Comfort
  • Moderator: George Y. Gonzalez, Partner, Haynes Boone, LLP
This event is Thursday, May 2, from 8:15 to 10 am at Partnership Tower. Click here to register.

May 3 — Transformative Healthcare Innovations Across the TMC

This symposium is filled with discussions, presentations, and networking opportunities. Discover the latest advancements in healthcare technology and how they are shaping the future of medicine. The event will be held in person at the TMC3 Collaborative Building, so come ready to engage with industry experts and fellow healthcare enthusiasts.

This event is Friday, May 3, from 9 am to 3:30 pm at TMC3 Collaborative Building. Click here to register.

May 6 to 9 — Offshore Technology Conference.

Since 1969, the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) has served as a central hub convening energy professionals from around the world to share ideas and innovations, discuss, debate, and build consensus around the most pressing topics facing the offshore energy sector.

This conference is Monday, May 7, to Thursday, May 9, at NRG Park. Click here to register.

May 7 — Small Business Awards Houston 

This year's awards luncheon event theme will be "The SBA Awards presented by SCORE are going to Space" celebrating Houston's advances into space with two fantastic guest speakers and the optional “How to do business with NASA” workshop. The keynote speakers will be Stephanie Murphy, Aegis Aerospace and Arturo Machuca, Director of the Houston Spaceport.

This event is Tuesday, May 7, from 11 am to 1:30 pm at Royal Sonesta Galleria Houston. Click here to register.

May 7 — Tech + Tequila Talk: Goal Park Innovation

At the upcoming edition of Tech+Tequila talk, hear the process behind activating public spaces like Goal Park. Specifically, explore how innovation plays a key role in creating a safer and more dynamic environment for the community. Join in discussions on the intersection of art, philanthropy, and urban development, and learn how projects like Goal Park are shaping the future of our cities.

This event is Tuesday, May 7, from 6 to 8 pm at Niels Esperson Building. Click here to register.

May 13 — TECHSPO Houston 2024 Technology Expo

TECHSPO Houston brings together developers, brands, marketers, technology providers, designers, innovators and evangelists looking to set the pace in advancing technology. Watch exhibitors showcase the next generation of advances in technology & innovation, including; Internet, Mobile, AdTech, MarTech and SaaS technologies.

This event is Monday, May 13, from 9 am to 7 pm at Marriott Marquis. Click here to register.

May 14 — An Evening with Johnson & Johnson's Immunology Team

Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine Immunology Team will present our strategic priorities in the space as part of our search for promising scientific innovations.

The focus areas of the program include bispecifics for auto-immune and inflammatory diseases, multispecific T-cell engagers for deep cell depletion, and tissue T-Reg / stromal immune modulators. After the programming concludes, there will be an opportunity to network at the reception with industry leaders and like-minded innovators. This networking session will provide attendees with a chance to discuss ideas, and further explore collaboration opportunities

This event is Tuesday, May 14, from 4 to 7 pm at Texas Medical Center. Click here to register.

May 16 — Energy Underground

The Energy Underground is a group of professionals in the Greater Houston area that are accelerating the Energy Transition. Make industry contacts, secure financing, share deals, recommend talent looking to enter the energy workforce at this meeting of like-minded innovators.

This event is Thursday, May 16, from 12 to 1 pm at the Cannon West Houston. Click here to register.

May 16 — UH Tech Bridge: Innov8Hub Pitch Day

This event is your chance to immerse yourself in the vibrant startup ecosystem, network with industry experts, and discover the next big thing. Get ready to witness groundbreaking ideas and cutting-edge pitches from talented individuals.

This event is Thursday, May 16, from 5 to 7:30 pm at UH Tech Bridge. Click here to register.

May 18 — Create by Getty Images Houston 2024

Head to this event to shoot a variety of ready-to-upload content for your portfolio and enjoy priceless creative development opportunities. Connect with fellow creators, collaborators, and peers to expand your network and build meaningful relationships. Participate in interactive workshops to enhance your skills and knowledge and gain actionable takeaways for creative endeavors.

This event starts Saturday, May 18, at 8:30 am at The Cannon West Houston. Click here to register.

May 22 — Pearland Innovation Hub Anniversary

Come for an evening filled with innovation, creativity, and fun. Attendees will have an opportunity to meet some members, partners, and sponsors of Pearland Innovation Hub.

This event is Wednesday, May 22, from 6 to 8 pm at Spacio.us. Click here to register.

May 28 — Texas Small Business Expo

Texas Small Business Expo is a trade show, educational business to business conference, exhibition & networking event for entrepreneurs, start-ups and anyone that owns a business or looking to start their own business. Learn how to solve challenging business issues by discussing strategies, acquire valuable knowledge from those in your business and connect with top vendors in various industries.

This event is Tuesday, May 28, from 4 to 9 pm at Wakefield Crowbar. Click here to register.

May 29 — Bayou City Bio Pulse at Gensler

Join the GHP for its next Bayou City Bio Pulse, hosted by global architecture, design and planning firm, Gensler. This event will feature panel discussions, tours of Gensler’s space, VR walkthroughs and more.

This event is Wednesday, May 29, from 4 to 6 pm at Gensler's office (2 Houston Center). Click here to register.

Texas lands in top 10 states expected to be most financially affected by weather events

report

Texas — home to everything from tornadoes to hurricanes — cracks the top 10 of a new report ranking states based on impact from weather-related events.

SmartAsset's new report factored in a myriad of data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to identify which states face the most financial risk due to various weather events. In the report, the states were ranked by the total expected annual financial losses per person. Texas ranked at No. 10.

"With a variety of environmental events affecting the wide stretch of the United States, each state is subject to its own risks," reads the report. "Particularly, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, landslides, lightning and drought, among other events, can cause damage to buildings, agriculture and individuals alike. When considering insurance, residents and business owners in each state should account for historic and projected losses due to environmental events in their financial plans."

In Texas, the total expected annual loss per person is estimated as $283.15. The report broke down each weather event as follows:

  • Coastal flooding: $1.49
  • Drought: $3.48
  • Earthquake: $1.71
  • Heat wave: $8.16
  • Hurricane: $89.22
  • Riverine flooding: $66.05
  • Strong wind: $5.37
  • Tornado: $71.04
  • Wildfire: $8.26
  • Winter weather: $1.96
Louisiana ranked as No. 1 on the list with $555.55 per person. The state with the lowest expected loss per person from weather events was Ohio with only $63.89 estimated per person.


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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

Exclusive: Houston hydrogen spinout names energy industry veteran as CEO

good as gold

Cleantech startup Gold H2, a spinout of Houston-based energy biotech company Cemvita, has named oil and gas industry veteran Prabhdeep Singh Sekhon as its CEO.

Sekhon previously held roles at companies such as NextEra Energy Resources and Hess. Most recently, he was a leader on NextEra’s strategy and business development team.

Gold H2 uses microbes to convert oil and gas in old, uneconomical wells into clean hydrogen. The approach to generating clean hydrogen is part of a multibillion-dollar market.

Gold H2 spun out of Cemvita last year with Moji Karimi, co-founder of Cemvita, leading the transition. Gold H2 spun out after successfully piloting its microbial hydrogen technology, producing hydrogen below 80 cents per kilogram.

The Gold H2 venture had been a business unit within Cemvita.

“I was drawn to Gold H2 because of its innovative mission to support the U.S. economy in this historical energy transition,” Sekhon says in a news release. “Over the last few years, my team [at NextEra] was heavily focused on the commercialization of clean hydrogen. When I came across Gold H2, it was clear that it was superior to each of its counterparts in both cost and [carbon intensity].”

Gold H2 explains that oil and gas companies have wrestled for decades with what to do with exhausted oil fields. With Gold H2’s first-of-its-kind biotechnology, these companies can find productive uses for oil wells by producing clean hydrogen at a low cost, the startup says.

“There is so much opportunity ahead of Gold H2 as the first company to use microbes in the subsurface to create a clean energy source,” Sekhon says. “Driving this dynamic industry change to empower clean hydrogen fuel production will be extremely rewarding.”

In 2022, Gold H2 celebrated its successful Permian Basin pilot and raised early-stage funding. In addition to Gold H2, Cemvita also spun out a resource mining operation called Endolith. In a podcast episode, Karimi discussed Cemvita's growth and spinout opportunities.