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Strategy

Halliburton Trades Expertise for Knowledge in Transition

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Halliburton Labs, the clean-technology accelerator set up by the oil-field services behemoth, is just over a year old but Halliburton says it has already proved a valuable tool for navigating the energy transition. The unit exists independently of Halliburton, but symbiotically — it is not a revenue generator or even an investment vehicle in the traditional sense but is giving the company vital knowledge and exposure to emerging technologies and markets. In return, the companies invited into the program receive broad access to facilities and tailored support to help them meet — and often exceed — their own corporate targets. “We’re trying to expand the perimeter of markets and technologies ... that might not have come to [Halliburton] otherwise,” Dale Winger, managing director of Halliburton Labs, tells Energy Intelligence.

Like its traditional rivals in the oil-field services sector, Schlumberger and Baker Hughes, Halliburton is forging its own path into the next era of energy production and distribution, an era that will surely look much different from what exists today. Those other companies have formed business units and product lines and even made significant equity investments chasing some of today’s most important new markets, including hydrogen, geothermal and carbon capture and storage.

Halliburton will also likely compete in these sectors as the markets develop. But unlike its top competitors, Halliburton is focusing, at least for now, more on its core oil and gas business and decarbonizing its own operations and those of its customers. Through the dozen or so companies now enrolled in the Labs program — and many more who applied but didn’t make the final cut — Halliburton says it is gaining a fresh perspective on the evolving needs and challenges of the energy sector and building relationships with some of the future suppliers and solutions providers.

Emerging Value Chain

Most illuminating so far, Winger says, has been insight into the emerging energy transition value chain: supplier and customer relationships and rivalries, the role of substitute products, and “the basic analysis you’d do before you jump into a new business,” he says. "A lot of those definitions haven’t been defined yet across clean-energy value chains."

Take hydrogen, for instance. There is plenty of excitement and interesting work being done in the space, Winger says, but specifics about how hydrogen is produced, stored, transported and distributed, among other things, still has a lot of “missing” pieces. “And that’s OK — that’s part of the nascent nature of where we are in the energy transition. But by getting involved with these companies and helping them where we can ... hopefully we’ll learn some things in terms of where are some of the places where we can really contribute and add value with the capabilities we have as an organization.”

Halliburton recently announced the newest cohort of four companies to join the Labs program, just as its first participants near the end of the year-long relationship. The latest group is heavy on various energy storage technologies, an area Winger identifies as one of the “major lanes” for the advancement of the energy transition. “Enablers that make renewable generation and distribution more reliable” are another key focus area for companies involved with Halliburton Labs, as are ways to reduce consumption and improve conservation, he says.

Halliburton Labs Participants to Date
Company NameSelection DateWhat They Do
NanotechQ3'20Material science company focused on fireproofing and insulation technologies.
Enexor BioEnergyQ1'21Converts most types of waste into renewable power and thermal energy.
MomentumQ1'21On-site lithium battery and e-waste recycling.
OCO ChemQ1'21Transforms CO2, water, and zero-carbon electricity into a H2-rich platform chemical.
Alumina EnergyQ3'21Thermal energy storage to increase reliabilty of renewable-generated power and heat.
IonadaQ3'21Modular carbon capture for industrial emitters, including energy and marine markets.
ParasantiQ3'21Data analytics in low- and no-bandwidth environments.
SurgePower MaterialsQ3'21Manufactures high-purity graphene from renewable raw material.
Helix PowerQ4'21Energy storage and generation using patented flywheel technology.
Icarus RTQ4'21Power boosting and energy storage tech to improve PV solar system performance.
SolvCorQ4'21Improves heat transfer for applications such as cooling systems and thermal storage.
StrayosQ4'21A.I. tools to help mining and cement companies more efficiently extract raw minerals.

It's the Little Things

Companies that are far along in the program say the experience has provided a level of support beyond what they were expecting or could have anticipated. Access to Halliburton’s warehouse and lab facilities, as well as its engineering and manufacturing expertise, were always big draws. But less obvious aspects like help putting together legal teams, developing organizational charts or leveraging the weight of Halliburton’s name to get suppliers or potential partners to take your call have proved “instrumental,” says Preston Bryant, CEO of Momentum Technologies, a battery recycling firm in the Labs’ first cohort.

Carrie Horazeck, head of commercial development for Parasanti, a data analytics company, says Halliburton’s experts helped the firm understand hardware classification processes required to get its product ready for commercial application — “little stuff that we never would have known without the highly qualified expertise of someone that could sit with our tech ... and say here’s what you’ve got, here’s what it needs to become.”

Halliburton takes a 5% equity stake in each of the companies that complete the Labs program and gives participants $100,000 in “getting around money,” Winger says. But that is in no way a valuation or a promise of future financial support, or akin to any traditional forms of venture investing. “That might complicate behaviors,” he says. And while after a few years Halliburton could find itself with a portfolio of potentially valuable stakes in these companies as they scale, the larger firm is still considering options for monetizing them down the road. “As we go forward and have more alumni and we learn more things about how some of these energy value chains are evolving, we certainly do think that creates some interesting new opportunities for the company,” Winger says.

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