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Eni, Euglena and PETRONAS to explore biorefinery opportunity in Malaysia

Eni, Euglena and PETRONAS to explore biorefinery opportunity in Malaysia
Euglena Co. Ltd, Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS), and Eni S.p.A. are jointly studying the possibility of developing and operating a biorefinery at PETRONAS' Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC) in Malaysia (graphic courtesy Euglena).

Italy-headed oil and gas major Eni S.p.A., Japan-based advanced biofuels developer Euglena Co. Ltd, and Malaysian state-owned oil major Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS) have announced that they are jointly studying the possibility of developing and operating a biorefinery in the Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC), one of the largest integrated refinery and petrochemical developments in Southeast Asia.

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According to a statement, the three parties are currently carrying out technical and economic feasibility assessments for the proposed project, with the investment decision expected to be reached by 2023 and the plant targeted to be completed by 2025.

Refinery integration

To be located adjacent to PETRONAS’ existing integrated refinery and petrochemical facilities, the biorefinery will be able to leverage the company’s integrated value chain as well as existing utilities and facilities in PIC.

The complex’s strategic location with easy access to major international shipping lanes will also enhance the planned refinery’s ability to cater to the rising demand for sustainable solutions worldwide.

The biorefinery is expected to have a flexible configuration to maximize the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for aircraft as well as renewable diesel (hydrogenated vegetable oil – HVO) for on-road vehicles, diesel-powered trains, and marine transportation.

This flexibility will enable the production to meet the ever-changing and growing energy demands of customers.

Up to 12 500 barrels per day capacity

The biorefinery is also expected to have the capability to process about 650 000 tonnes per year of raw materials to produce up to 12 500 barrels per day of renewable fuels (SAF, HVO, and bio-naphtha).

The raw materials to be used will not compete with those in the food chain such as used vegetable oils (UCO), animal fats, waste from the processing of vegetable oils, and other biomass including microalgae oils to be explored in the mid-term.

The planned biorefinery will use Honeywell UOP’s Ecofining process which was developed by Eni in cooperation with Honeywell UOP.

For the biorefinery project to develop together with Euglena and PETRONAS in Malaysia, Eni is pleased to share its experience and its breakthrough technologies that enabled the company to make the world’s first conversion of a refinery into a biorefinery in Porto Marghera (Venice) in 2014 and to inaugurate the second one in Gela, Sicily in 2019, Giuseppe Ricci, Chief Operating Officer for Energy Evolution at Eni.

Strong partnership

Eni S.p.A has begun production operations with its new Biomass Treatment Unit (BTU) at its Gela biorefinery in Sicily (photo courtesy Eni).

Eni plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 through a decarbonization pathway that aims to reduce the emissions generated throughout the entire product’s life cycle.

Eni is the only Italian producer of renewable diesel (HVO), a fuel that can either be blended with conventional diesel fuel or used neat as HVO100 in all approved engines enabling life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions of 60 to 90 percent depending on the feedstock, compared to the standard fossil diesel.

SAF is produced at Eni’s Livorno refinery, in cooperation with Eni’s Gela biorefinery. It is currently blended at 20 percent into Eni Jet Fuel.

Japan’s first biojet/renewable diesel production demonstration plant was completed on October 31, 2018, in the Keihin coastal area of Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama (photo courtesy Euglena).

With an additional 150 000 tonnes of production capacity coming onstream in Gela in 2024, Eni will be able to meet the potential blending obligation of the Italian market for 2025.

Euglena is Japan’s award-winning biotechnology-driven and sustainability-oriented growth company with R&D capabilities such as mass cultivation technology of the microalgae “Euglena”.

Euglena completed Japan’s first demonstration plant producing SAF renewable jet and renewable diesel fuels in 2018 and has supplied its products to corporates and organizations covering land, air, and marine areas across the country.

Recently, Euglena became Japan’s first supplier that introduced domestic SAF to the hydrant system of Narita International Airport (NRT) and completed Japan’s first supply of SAF to governmental aircraft of Japan.

This project is a significant step for the commercialization of our Biofuel business and our challenge to expediting biofuel usage and decarbonization in Japan. I am extremely excited for the opportunity to work with the great partners of respective expertise and stride together for a brighter and cleaner future, said Mitsuru Izumo, Founder, and President of Euglena.

PETRONAS is the first Asian energy company to declare its Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050 aspiration and had recently been involved in a partnership to supply SAF for Malaysia Airlines’ first commercial cargo and passenger flights using the cleaner and more viable fuel option.

It is also exploring other ventures into the biofuels space via co-processing at its existing facilities and other channels.

In the same vein, PETRONAS has also renewed its decade-long partnership as the Title and Technical Partner of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team ahead of the 2026 season as the motorsport shifts towards sustainable fuel.

As PETRONAS continues to chart its course into the biofuels space, decarbonizing and diversifying its product portfolio to cater to the rising global demand for sustainable solutions, this collaboration is momentous to unlock the partners’ respective strengths and jointly strengthen our position in the field of biofuels in Malaysia and around the world, said Ahmad Adly Alias, VP, Refining, Marketing and Trading of PETRONAS’ Downstream business.

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