BP Energy invests $ 30 million in Onboard Dynamics, manufacturer of natgas inhalation units

BP Energy Partners seeks to capitalize on increased efforts to reduce methane emissions with a recent growth investment in Onboard Dynamics LLC.

BP Energy has pledged $ 30 million for Onboard, based in Bend, Ore., A developer of portable units used in pipeline evacuations and in the refueling of vehicles running on natural gas, said Loren Soetenga, head of natural gas. BP Energy investor relations. With the deal, the private equity firm acquired a controlling stake in Onboard, he said.

The company’s portable units siphon off natural gas that needs to be “purged” or drained from pipelines during repairs or regular maintenance. Gas collection prevents the release of methane, the main component of natural gas. The units then compress the gas to store it in tubular trailers so that it can be transported and re-injected into another part of the pipeline or used as fuel, said Onboard CEO Rita Hansen, who co-founded the company. in 2013.

Onboard’s own gas gathering units are also powered by natural gas from pipelines under maintenance, Ms. Hansen noted. Competitive products, she said, burn dirtier diesel fuel.

Onboard was born at Oregon State University with funding from the US Department of Energy’s Agency for Advanced Research Projects, or ARPA-E, and was later backed by angel investors, Ms. Hansen said.

The company is reaching out to utilities and other pipeline operators and is riding a wave of government action to reduce methane emissions, as part of a larger effort to contain climate change, she said. declared. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Among those government campaigns, Ms Hansen highlighted the methane reduction plan released by the White House earlier this month, as well as the law to protect our pipeline infrastructure and improve safety, a law enacted. by the Trump administration in December 2020.

Regulators, who must flesh out how this law works, have indicated that upcoming rules will virtually ban the intentional venting of gas from pipelines, Ms Hansen said. The measure, she said, reflects a “cultural shift” in pipeline regulation that adds environmental protection to personal safety concerns.

“One of the main drivers of the company’s business is that intentional releases of methane would be banned” under the new regulations, Ms. Hansen said. “Now that the PIPES law has come into effect, there is a lot more activity around methane reduction. “

The company plans to use BP Energy’s investment to manufacture more of its portable units, but also to develop new models that can handle higher throughputs as the market grows. US operators perform tens of thousands of pipeline purges per year, estimates Onboard.

Onboard also plans to adopt a rental and service model similar to that of another BP Energy portfolio company, Mesa Natural Gas Solutions LLC, Ms. Hansen said. Mesa manufactures generators that run on natural gas produced from oil and gas wells to provide electricity to field operations, helping to reduce flaring.

“Leveraging BP Energy’s experience in building rental and service businesses has been one of the main factors that attracted Onboard to BP Energy, in addition to capital, industry knowledge and contacts, ”Ms. Hansen said.

BP Energy, based in Dallas, supports companies throughout the natural gas supply chain and also invests in renewable energy. The company is investing from its second fund, BP Natural Gas Opportunity Partners II LP, which closed in 2019 with $ 348 million.

From the WSJ

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