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GE, ConocoPhillips Vie for Hunton IGCC Contract

Hunton Energy is planning a $2.4 billion power plant in the Houston, Texas area that includes CO2 sequestration. The Lockwood integrated gasification combined cycle plant will consist of two phases with the first phase scheduled for a 1Q 2008 groundbreaking. The plant will gasify a petroleum byproduct, ultimately generating 1200 MW of power with some of the lowest negative emissions of any plant in the U.S., according to Hunton.

Financing is not complete, but a 200-acre site is under contract subject to the successful negotiation of appropriate tax incentives, and a long-term supply arrangement with Valero Energy Corporation to receive pet coke for processing in return for power generated at the plant also is in place. Hunton Energy is participating in ongoing discussions with consortiums led by General Electric and ConocoPhillips regarding the gasification process to be selected for the Lockwood Project.

The Lockwood Plant will use petroleum coke, a refinery byproduct with properties similar to coal, as its primary fuel; pet coke (petroleum coke) is a refinery byproduct with properties similar to coal. As the pet coke is processed, a high efficiency gas turbine burns the resulting clean gases. The heat from this process is captured and used to drive a steam turbine thereby maximizing the generation of electricity. Byproducts of the process is captured and used or sequestered, including elements such as mercury, sulfur and CO2.

More than a dozen power plants around the world use pet coke, most based on technology that was developed by Conoco- Phillips or GE’s Houston-based gasification technology unit, the Houston Chronicle reports. The plants haven’t reached the same reliability rates as the more numerous pulverized coal plants, running in the mid-80 percent range versus 90 percent for pulverized coal.

“We anticipate executing a letter of intent with either the GE or ConocoPhillips teams in early first quarter 2007,” says Richard Hunton Jr, executive VP. The permitting process is underway and the permit will be filed in the first quarter of this year.

Hunton has not completed plans for carbon sequestration on the project but has discussed the project with a number of oil-field operators, according to the Chronicle. Injecting CO2 into the ground to improve oil recovery in older wells is a well-established business, but storing it in the ground long-term is still a developing technology. Just this week, in a draft environmental impact statement for a Pennsylvania coal-to-clean fuels project, the Department of Energy said the technology has several years to go before it is commercially viable, the Chronicle reports.

Just this week, GE Energy Financial Services announced that it acquired a 20 percent equity interest in the ERORA Group, which is developing Kentuckys 630 net megawatt Cash Creek Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle facility.

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