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Repsol to join Ecoplanta Molecular Recycling Solutions project in Tarragona

Spain-headed oil, gas, and multi-energy major Repsol S.A. (Repsol) have announced that it will join the Ecoplanta Molecular Recycling Solutions (Ecoplanta) project, together with Canadian gasification technology developer Enerkem Inc and Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona, SA (Agbar), a global expert in water and waste management, to build a waste-to-chemicals (WtC) plant in Tarragona, Spain.

Repsol’s Tarragona Complex consists of a number of facilities that produce a wide range of petroleum products and fuels for industry and transportation. After the improvements made in recent years, refining capacity in Tarragona stands at 186 000 barrels of oil per day. The company has successfully produced the first batch of biofuel for aviation (photo courtesy Repsol).

Under the joint venture Ecoplanta Molecular Recycling Solutions, the plant will process around 400 000 tonnes of non-recyclable municipal solid waste (MSW) from its surrounding regions and produce 220 000 tonnes of methanol.

This methanol will be used as raw material to produce circular materials or advanced biofuels, contributing to avoid 200 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) and reducing the waste that ends up in the landfill. This alliance is a further step towards the multi-energy company’s ambition to become a net-zero emissions company by 2050.

First-of-its-kind-project in Iberia

The plant, the first of its kind in the Iberian Peninsula, will be co-managed by Repsol and Agbar, whilst Enerkem will be the key technological partner. The plant is projected to be in operation in 2025 after taking the project’s final investment decision by the first quarter of 2022.

The project already obtained the Integrated Environmental Authorization and the approval of the Environmental Impact Statement from the local authorities.

Repsol has a leading industrial complex in Tarragona, a factor that will allow for synergies among the facilities, and according to the company, this petrochemical complex is the most important of its kind in Spain.

Among the many types of polymers produced there, the range of highly specialized products for the automotive sector, such as high-impact resistant polymers, stands out.

We are very pleased to join forces with relevant waste management and innovative technology partners, showing our commitment to the circular economy and reinforcing our commitment to recycling 20 percent of our polyolefins production by 2030, said Jose Luis Bernal, Repsol’s Executive Director for Chemicals.

Enerkem gasification technology

The plant will use Enerkem’s proprietary gasification technology to transform MSW into high value-added products such as methanol. This patented state-of-the-art technology is the first to be tested on an industrial scale, after a rigorous scale-up from pilot to demonstration to commercial scale that took place over a decade in Canada.

Enerkem has a commercial demonstration plant in operation in Edmonton, Alberta (AB), and a new facility under construction in Varennes, Québec (QC).

We are proud to welcome Repsol as a partner to further support our Tarragona facility. Their strong expertise of the industry, coupled with that of Agbar, will enable us to feature the numerous benefits associated with our unique disruptive technology, transforming waste into renewable plastics or advanced biofuels, said Dominique Boies, CEO, and CFO of Enerkem.

The project is also one of 70 projects selected to apply for funding from the European Union Innovation Fund (EIF), which focuses on highly innovative technologies and large flagship projects within Europe to bring about significant emission reductions.

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