White & Case Advises Occidental on Joint Venture with BHE Renewables to Commercialize Terralithium Extraction Technology

Press Release
2 min read

Global law firm White & Case LLP has advised Occidental on its joint venture with BHE Renewables, a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, for the demonstration and deployment of TerraLithium's Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) and associated technologies to extract and commercially produce high-purity lithium compounds from geothermal brine.

TerraLithium, a wholly owned subsidiary of Occidental, has patented DLE technologies that have the potential to process any lithium-containing brine into a responsibly sourced supply of high-purity lithium. BHE Renewables operates ten geothermal power plants in California's Imperial Valley, which process 50,000 gallons of lithium-rich brine per minute to produce 345 megawatts of clean energy. The joint venture has begun a project at BHE Renewables' Imperial Valley geothermal facility to demonstrate the feasibility of using the TerraLithium DLE technology to produce lithium in an environmentally safe manner.

Upon successful demonstration, BHE Renewables plans to build, own and operate commercial lithium production facilities in California's Imperial Valley. The joint venture also plans to license the technology and develop commercial lithium production facilities outside the Imperial Valley.

Lithium is a key component in batteries for electric vehicles, consumer electronics and energy grid storage. It is also used in industrial applications to manufacture glass, ceramics and pharmaceuticals. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, battery lithium demand is projected to increase tenfold over 2020 – 2030, in line with battery demand growth.

The transaction represents a significant milestone in the development of, and investment by established energy industry participants in, the nascent American lithium extraction market, which is of increasing importance to domestic energy security in the face of the significant influence wielded by other countries in the wider global lithium supply chain. A dependable domestic source of lithium is essential to the battery and storage system market, including as required for the development and production of electric vehicles.

The White & Case team was led by partners Jay Cuclis (Houston), Raymond Azar, Arlene Arin Hahn and Burr Eckstut (all in New York), and Chad McCormick (Houston); and associates Jack Moxon, Chantal Carriere, Neil Clausen and Kealan Hannes (all in Houston); Mark Kim, Nashel Jung and Jack Hobbie (all in New York) and law clerk Kelly Funderburk (Washington, DC).

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