The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill passed in 2021 includes $8 billion to create and physically build a hydrogen market in the U.S. The Department of Energy’s hydrogen program lays out a strategy that begins with 6-10 regional hubs that will manufacture, transport, store, liquify, and commercialize “clean” hydrogen on a large scale. That’s one way of going about it. But a new breed of wildcatter is taking a decidedly more natural route.

Reese Energy Consulting today is following the latest from Australia-based HyTerra, its partner Denver-based Natural Hydrogen Energy, and their joint Geneva project in northeastern Kans. The two startups are focused on exploration and production of natural hydrogen starting on the Nemaha Ridge, where they plan to drill the world’s first wildcat well specifically targeting natural hydrogen originating from the Nemaha’s iron-rich rocks. The Nemaha Ridge is part of the 1,200-mile geologic Midcontinent Rift System, which extends through the middle of North America.

After raising $4 million in initial funding, HyTerra in May acquired leases on 7,500 acres in three counties on the Nemaha where wells have encountered hydrogen occurrences as high as 92%, along with bonus-prize helium. As part of its broader strategy, HyTerra says it will explore for hydrogen deposits in areas close to industrial customers, end users, and existing infrastructure, essentially creating mini hubs.