Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Audubon Companies Invests in NuQuest Energy LLC, a Utility-Scale Renewable Energy Development Company

 "Audubon Companies is pleased to announce its investment in NuQuest Energy LLC, a utility-scale renewable energy development company pursuing projects in the United States."

"The newly-formed company intends to leverage its extensive experience in engineering, procurement, construction, finance, land leasing, regulatory, project management, and operations to become an industry-leading renewables development company."

"Aligned with Audubon Companies’ commitment to the energy transition, the investment in NuQuest Energy compliments Audubon Companies current portfolio of decarbonization solutions."

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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Why These Louisiana Fossil Fuel Land Scouts Are Jumping Into The Solar Power Business

"As a geologist, Kirk Barrell has studied what lies below ground for decades on the hunt for oil and gas pockets across Louisiana. But now he's searching for land to build solar farms that won't be a wetland in 50 years along the Gulf Coast.

Barrell is co-founder of NuQuest Energy, a renewable energy developer looking to build large solar farms in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi then sell the electricity manufactured from the sun's rays to utility companies. 

NuQuest Energy is based in New Orleans and was created by a group of fossil fuel industry service executives looking to hedge their oil and gas bets by jumping into the renewable energy business. NuQuest Energy co-founders include Denis Taylor and Bob Rosamond, partners at Houston-based engineering firm Audubon Companies, alongside Alex Guitart, president of New Orleans Land & Title Company LLC. Barrell also runs Amelia Resources which secures oil and gas leases from private landowners for sale to drillers interested in the Louisiana shale plays. 

"It just seems that right now there's a strong tailwind pushing for this (energy) transition to happen quickly," said Barrell who saw parallels between the skills it takes to be successful in oil and gas applicable to renewable power. "There's been a momentum shift. We've all done well in our businesses by moving early and we see opportunity."

Entergy is one utility provider which is seeking to buy several hundred megawatts of renewable power from developers in the coming years. Companies are actively bidding for an exclusive long-term deal with Entergy. As such, it's attracted businesses from around the world interested in making money on solar projects. 

Barrell has been negotiating land lease agreements with landowners for oil and gas exploration across Louisiana for decades. Those same discussions are now happening with farmers considering abandoning crops for royalties from solar power manufacturing fields. 

NuQuest Energy was incorporated in March and expects to close on a deal soon for its first self-funded solar project upwards of 100 megawatts of electricity, known as utility-scale solar. The company built its own software tool which it plans to use in scouting for suitable land for solar, close to the existing grid and transmission lines where there may be a lack of power but high demand. 

The three variables in a solar project in Southeast Louisiana are negotiating with landowners, typically family-owned farms and ranches, navigating wetlands, and the regulatory process. Unlike during an exploratory well deep underground where it may or may not be profitable to drill, the sun has a much higher chance of shining year round. 

"We've met with many farmers about the financials of future consistent income," he said. "If you look at the risk of farming, declining crop yields and expense (of running a farm such as labor) you're seeing three to four times the dollar per acre (for solar)."

But that doesn't mean the group is abandoning fossil fuel exploration. 

"We're all still active in oil and natural gas but this is an expansion of our efforts, you could see it as balancing the portfolio a little bit," Barrell said. 

In Louisiana, there's gaps in the grid the Entergy wants to fill but the population hubs are in the Southeast where wetlands are more common which is another hurdle to jump over and the company is banking it's got a home team advantage in its knowledge of the land and data to back it up.

"One of our challenges is the wetlands. It could be (a good site) from the technical aspects of the grid but then you look at your map and it's a deal killer, it's about finding dry land," he said." 

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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Announcing The Formation of NuQuest Energy LLC

The "energy transition" is going to take 30-40 years. Oil and natural gas will be paramount to the United States economy and security for many decades. Our country represents 4.27% of the world's population, yet we represent 17% of total world primary energy consumption. As a country we need a "full court press" across all energy sources immediately. Our internal audit revealed that we have over 200,000 acres secured in the TMS Play.  We need some portfolio balance.

I'm really excited about this new venture with some amazing Co-Founders. We're very focused on developing solar farms in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Please reach out if you have land that you would like reviewed for the potential of a solar farm. 

Our key criteria:
-at least 800 contiguous acres (can be multiple owners)
-no wetlands
-flat
-ideally no timber
-near transmission and a substation
-cropland is ideal

Energy Industry Executives Team up on New Venture, NuQuest Energy, to Develop Utility-Scale Renewable Energy Projects in the United States