When I introduced Fools to Denbury Resources
There's another side to this story that I find pretty compelling. Denbury's oil operations are fueled by carbon dioxide, which is pumped into the reservoir in order to reduce the viscosity of left-behind oil and revive production. Kinder Morgan
A company that takes large quantities of CO2 and uses it to produce an essential commodity? That's a great position to be in as the hammer comes down on carbon emitters like Southern Co.
Denbury has a strong competitive advantage in the enhanced oil recovery (EOR) realm thanks to its ownership of Jackson Dome, a rare natural CO2 deposit. The firm has quite a ways to go before Jackson Dome is depleted, but Denbury still needs to look beyond this bounty to ensure long-term corporate viability. That means turning to manmade sources.
One potential source of manufactured CO2 is the waste stream from a gasification plant. Here, a raw material like coal or petroleum coke is converted to a cleaner synthesis gas, which can fuel a turbine, just like natural gas. This is the technology behind the Kentucky NewGas plant being pursued by ConocoPhillips
With climate change legislation looming, and multibillion-dollar federal loan guarantees up for grabs, there are big incentives today for developers to jump into gasification. That brings us to beneficiary No. 2: Leucadia National
Last year I wrote about one of the holding company's gasification projects in Lake Charles, La. Little did I know that Leucadia was simultaneously pursuing similar projects elsewhere in the country. One, in Indiana, looked like it was dead in the water until legislators gave it their blessing in March. The other, at the Mississippi site of an old International Paper plant, recently advanced in talks with the Department of Energy about landing a $1.7 billion loan guarantee.
Coming full circle, Denbury happens to have a CO2 purchase contract with that latter plant, as with two Midwestern plants that are also in advanced talks with the DOE. I don't know for certain that this offtake will earn the company credits under a cap-and-trade scheme, but it's conceivable that Denbury could really cash in on carbon caps.
Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned in this article. Check out his CAPS profile or follow his articles using Twitter or RSS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.