Put Me In, Coach - Hydrogen Slides 'On Deck' and Ready to Play

In the world of public equities, nothing speaks relevance like a PowerPoint slide in the earnings call and conference decks that companies put together for analysts and investors. If a topic’s not important, then it probably didn’t “make the deck” — or even the appendix, for that matter. As consultants, we at RBN are familiar with this concept and we’ve been watching for some time to see just how long it would take hydrogen, one of our favorite recent subjects, to make its way into the slide-deck line-ups at some of the largest energy companies. Well, that time has arrived, with two energy stalwarts prominently featuring 2021’s darling subject over the last few days. However, with a new topic comes a need to put things in context. No problem, we are here to help on that. Today, we continue our series on H2 with a look at some recent hydrogen-focused slides from ExxonMobil and Enterprise Products Partners.

If you’ve been following our coverage of hydrogen and keeping count, then you’d know that this is our fifth blog on the subject, which we now cover in this space every other Thursday. If you’re looking to catch up, we wrote our initial blog on hydrogen in the fall of 2020, in part as a way to fill a Friday space with a somewhat unique topic. But the response was strong, so we continued with a blog that focused on the methods of producing hydrogen, which was then followed by an analysis of the economics around hydrogen production. Our most recent blog in the series focused on how Winter Storm Uri — also known as the Deep Freeze — sent gas prices soaring and curtailed demand for ammonia, one of the largest consumers of hydrogen in the U.S. Today, we turn our attention to what others are saying about hydrogen, with a look at some recent slides from two large, traditional hydrocarbon companies. On a final introductory note, we also publish a weekly newsletter on H2, the Hydrogen Billboard, that may pique your interest if you’ve made it this far.

Now, for the topic at hand. Almost everywhere you look the last few months, hydrogen has been making headlines and sorting through what’s relevant has been difficult. We haven’t been alone in this regard, and it’s our sense that even some of the most experienced players in the energy space have been hustling to understand where they fit — or might fit — in the nascent hydrogen-as-energy market. Conveying that role to the rest of the market has likely been a challenge, with only a handful of small players that have focused on hydrogen for many years making most of the headlines. However, that may be changing, as some major companies that historically centered their attention almost entirely on hydrocarbons are starting to lift the veil on their hydrogen expertise. One is ExxonMobil, a player that many don’t likely associate with hydrogen. In its most recent investor presentation, built for the company’s 2021 Investor Day, the company used the word 17 times in written material and devoted an entire slide to just hydrogen. For comparison, the word hydrogen appeared just once in the company’s 2020 Investor Day slides and wasn’t present at all in the 2019 presentation.

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