Oklo Signs On to Power Texas Oil Drilling

Even as the nuclear renaissance emerges, the fact remains that fossil fuels aren’t going anywhere. But that doesn’t mean that nuclear producers can’t wedge themselves into the oil market.

Oklo has signed a nonbinding letter of intent to provide 50 MW of nuclear energy to Diamondback Energy, a Texas-based oil and shale producer, to power extraction operations in the Permian Basin.

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

Give and take: It takes power to make power. In the Permian Basin, where Diamondback is looking to bring nuclear power, drilling operations use energy from the Texas grid to keep things moving. That’s a step up from using diesel generators—but the Texas grid can be unreliable, and Diamondback says its energy needs are only expected to increase.

Linking a dedicated nuclear reactor to a drilling operation could solve the reliability issues oil producers face in remote areas. The lack of carbon emissions is a bonus.

The road ahead: It’ll be at least a few years of R&D, building, and waiting on regulatory schedules before Oklo’s fast fission reactors are ready for primetime. The company hopes to have its first commercial reactors online by the end of the decade. This deal with Diamondback is nonbinding, but it could result in 20 years of power purchases by the oil company.

+ While we’re here: Oklo’s on a dealmaking streak. The company also announced last week that it has received a $25M advance payment from Equinix, a colocation data center operator, on a contract to procure up to 500 MW of nuclear power.

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