Permian Oil Producers Eye Next-Gen Nuclear to Cleaner Drilling

2024/04/02 13:14

American shale companies are eyeing the benefits of small nuclear reactors to power their Permian Basin drilling campaigns in order to reduce carbon emissions in a reliable and sustainable manner, Bloomberg reported on Monday. 

Among those eyeing small nuclear reactors is the largest independent producer in the region, Diamondback Energy Inc, which Bloomberg reports has already signed a letter of intent for a supply of next-generation nuclear reactors. 

The letter of intent was with Oklo Inc, whose CEO, Jacob Dewitte, reportedly told Bloomberg that the company was holding discussions with other oil producers, as well. In recent times, American shale producers in the Permian Basin have been retiring their diesel generators and shifting to power from the local grid, which is unreliable at times. 

Switching to small nuclear reactors, which do not create carbon dioxide emissions, would be both cleaner–in line with climate change goals–and more reliable than overloading the Texas power grid. 

“Small nuclear reactors could make sense as a low-cost, low-carbon, high-reliability alternative energy source for a company like Diamondback whose energy needs continue to increase,” Van’t Hof told Bloomberg in an email interview. 

The local grid will have to suffice for some time, however, as the next generation of small nuclear reactor technology is still in commercial development and years away from deploying commercially. 

Nuclear power has been gaining in popularity recently, with various predictions suggesting that we will not meet our climate change goals without help from nuclear energy. 

Oko’s DeWitte told Bloomberg that while oil is still necessary for our energy security, nuclear energy could be the clearest path towards reducing emissions from oil and gas producers. 

“These fossil fuels are going to be produced. Do we want to burn carbon to produce them, or do we want to not burn carbon to produce them?” DeWitte told Bloomberg. “There’s a pretty obvious answer.”