Equinor Partners with Standard Lithium

Equinor has entered into an agreement with Standard Lithium to acquire a 45% share in two lithium project companies in Southwest Arkansas and East Texas.

“Sustainably produced lithium can be an enabler in the energy transition, and we believe it can become an attractive business. This investment is an option with limited upfront financial commitment. We can utilise core technologies from oil and gas in a complementary partnership to mature these projects towards a possible final investment decision,” says Morten Halleraker, senior vice president for New Business and Investments in Technology, Digital and Innovation at Equinor.

Under the terms of the agreement, Equinor will compensate Standard Lithium for USD 30 million in past costs net to the acquired interest and will carry Standard Lithium’s capex of USD 33 million to progress the assets towards a possible final investment decision. Equinor will make milestone payments of up to USD 70 million in aggregate to Standard Lithium if a final investment decision is taken.

Lithium is an essential mineral in the energy transition and is required to meet the projected growth in electric vehicles and broader battery energy storage. Production of lithium from subsurface reservoirs with Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technologies is emerging as a production method with a lower environmental footprint than traditional methods.

Standard Lithium and Equinor will respectively own 55% and 45% of the two project companies, with Standard Lithium retaining operatorship. Equinor will support the operator with core competencies such as subsurface and project execution capabilities.


Mineral extraction from brines

DLE is a method of producing lithium from lithium-rich saltwater typically from deep underground reservoirs which cannot be used for drinking or agriculture purposes.

Lithium is separated from other brine constituents, like sodium, calcium, and magnesium, by bringing the brine into contact with a medium designed to selectively attract the lithium.

DLE is a technology that extracts lithium from brines located deep underground and reinjects the brine without lithium back into the subsurface through a second injector well.

DLE technologies produce a high purity lithium concentrate which can be converted into battery grade lithium chemicals using conventional processing technologies.

Integrated DLE processes typically consist of five main steps: pre-treatment, DLE, concentration, purification, and crystallisation.

Equinor began testing DLE technologies in 2018 to build an understanding of how to scale-up, including pre-treatment of subsurface brines and processing to battery grade lithium chemicals.

In 2021, Equinor Ventures invested in Lithium de France which is developing DLE and geothermal projects in France.

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