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Eni and CONOE sign UCO MoU

Italy-headed oil and gas major Eni S.p.A has announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Consortium for the Collection and Treatment of Used Oils and Fats (CONOE), to promote and increase the collection of used cooking oil (UCO) that will be supplied as feedstock to Eni's Venice biorefinery and, from 2018, the Gela refinery. The agreement will see Eni’s refineries in Italy capitalize on a national energy resource by creating high-quality biofuels from UCO.

On May 17, Eni and CONOE signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote and increase the collection of used cooking oil (UCO) to be supplied as feedstock for HVO production at Eni’s facilities in Venice and Gela (photo courtesy Eni).

Announced on May 17 during an event that was attended by the Italian Minister for the Environment and the Protection of Land and Sea, Gian Luca Galletti and the Director-General for Energy Supply Security and Infrastructure of the Ministry of Economic Development, Gilberto Dialuce, the deal represents the final stage of the “virtuous cycle of the circular economy”.

This agreement goes towards achieving the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction objectives defined in Paris and teaches us that the circular economy can take place also in areas we would never have thought of, said Minister Galletti.

The Minister also underlined the critical environmental issue of the incorrect disposal of wastes such as used cooking oil (UCO), which may seem harmless but have a high pollutant potential. When improperly disposed of down the kitchen sink, UCO damages the environment, the sewage system and poses a threat to human health.

CONOE will invite all Consortium member companies to supply Eni with used cooking oil (UCO) which Eni will in turn use as feedstock for its biorefinery in Venice. According to Eni, its Venice refinery is the world’s first conventional oil refinery to be converted into a biorefinery.

Giacomo Rispoli, Eni’s Portfolio Management & Supply and Licensing Director, urged CONOE companies to contact his collaborators directly to start, “beginning tomorrow, May 18”, a cooperation for the purchase of UCO collected by them.

The agreement also envisages joint ventures (JV) between Eni and CONOE, as well as with local public administrations and public waste collection companies, to promote the collection of increasing amounts of fats, oil and grease (FOG) produced by Italian households, which are currently almost entirely wasted.

Increase UCO and diversify feedstock

CONOE also estimates that there are significant potential savings of water and carbon dioxide (CO2) per tonne of biodiesel produced from UCO and used as fuel. Since May 2014, Eni’s Venice biorefinery has produced green diesel, green naphtha and LPG and has the capacity to create biojet fuel.

Opened in May 2014, Eni’s oil refinery in Venice is the first to be converted to a biorefinery (photo courtesy Eni).

Currently, the plant can process around 360 000 tonnes of vegetable oil per annum into hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) that is used as the 15 percent biocomponent blend in its Eni Diesel+ brand.

We invented a new process to avoid closing our refineries, reconverting them for the production of biofuels. In this agreement, we are combining three aspects of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. By merging these three elements we create a new economy, said Giuseppe Ricci, Eni’s Chief Refining & Marketing Officer.

Around 90 percent of the feedstock is palm oil supplied exclusively from certified sources in line with industry standards with the balance from UCO and other vegetable oils. Palm oil will be partially be replaced by increased volumes of UCO, and soon also by animal fats and other so-called advanced feedstock such as algae and waste once a new pre-processing plant comes online next year.

Eni’s capacity to process vegetable oils once the Gela refinery in Sicily begins operations in 2018 will be increased to approximately one million tonnes per annum. Furthermore, the Venice plant is expected to increase processing capacity to 560 000 tonnes in 2020 once additional planned upgrades have been implemented.

Since 2001, CONOE has increased UCO collection, from 15 000 tonnes in 2002 to 65 000 in 2016. This corresponds to 23 percent of the potentially collectable household FOG which is estimated to 280 000 tonnes. The MoU gives Eni the ability to acquire entire volumes from CONOE member companies on the national market.

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