Baker Hughes New Energy Sales Off to Fast Start

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Oil-field services giant Baker Hughes says it has seen a surge in orders for its new energy business so far this year, as supportive public policies and growing industry momentum around emissions reductions start to translate into tangible investments.

The company said Wednesday as part of its first-quarter earnings results that new energy sales tallied $300 million during the period. That's up appreciably from last year, which saw just $400 million in sales for all of 2022.

The strong orderbook was a surprise even to management, which had previously guided expectations for full-year 2023 to match last year's $400 million showing.

“We anticipate that at least in 2023, we should exceed the $400 million guidance we gave, and over the course of the next three to four years, we think that the new energy content should be around 10% of our gas tech orders,” CEO Lorenzo Simonelli predicted to analysts. The Baker Hughes boss said that would translate into sales of $6 billion-$7 billion annually by the end of the decade.

IRA Oomph

A large portion of the first quarter's activity came in the form of $250 million in orders for large carbon capture and storage projects in the US and Latin America, as well as two large hydrogen awards in North America, Simonelli said. Those include separate agreements with HIF Global to cooperate on direct air capture of CO2 and Fortescue Future Industries on green hydrogen produced via geothermal energy.

“I think we are seeing the benefits from some of the legislation, the [US] Inflation Reduction Act, that we've discussed before that had the potential to pull forward some of this activity,” he said, adding that more was likely to come.

Stepping On the Gas

Also filling the company's orderbook during the quarter was LNG.

Simonelli noted that 2023 has so far seen the industry green light projects totaling 20 million tons per year of liquefaction capacity, and says he remains "confident" that full-year final investment decisions could reach 65 million-115 million tons/yr, followed by "solid project activity" in 2024-25.

“Based on conversations with existing and new customers, we see the potential for this LNG cycle to extend for several years, with a pipeline of new international opportunities expanding project visibility out to 2026 and beyond," he said.

Simonelli argued this “multi-growth opportunity” in gas followed public policy positions toward gas, new projects in Africa, the Middle East and Mediterranean, and the emergence of new technologies and contract structures.

He was also unconcerned about recent gas price drawbacks from last year’s record heights, saying instead that the easing would merely incentivize consumers to use more of the fuel.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, we believe that recent declines in global LNG prices from the unsustainably high levels reached last year are a net positive for the sector by supporting demand growth in key developing markets and bringing closer alignment on LNG pricing expectations between buyers and sellers,” he opined.

Strong Momentum

Conventional oil and gas still drives the bulk of sales — and profits — for Baker Hughes. In that space, the company remains confident that double-digit upstream spending growth this year will bump its corporate-level annual revenues to $24 billion-$26 billion, up from $21.2 billion in 2022.

Baker Hughes' adjusted profit tallied $289 million for the quarter, effectively doubling its first-quarter 2022 results.

TPH analysts called the performance update "positive" as "order momentum continues" and with the second quarter "set up well versus expectations."

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