The finnish company Neste Oil plans to invest approximately €550 million in building a plant in Singapore to produce its “NExBTL Renewable Diesel”. The plant will have a design capacity of 800,000 t/a, making it the largest facility producing diesel fuel from renewable feedstocks anywhere. The investment forms part of Neste Oil’s strategic goal of becoming the world’s leading renewable diesel producer. The use of biofuels such as NExBTL is predicted to increase rapidly in developed economies over the next few years.
The plant will be based on Neste Oil’s proprietary NExBTL technology. The first NExBTL facility was commissioned in Finland at Neste Oil’s Porvoo refinery in summer 2007, and a second is due to come on stream there in 2009.
NExBTL technology is the first commercial new-generation renewable diesel production process, and can use any vegetable oil or animal fat as its input. The end-product, NExBTL Renewable Diesel, is a premium-quality fuel that outperforms conventional fossil diesel fuel and can be used as such in existing vehicles and be distributed in existing logistics systems. NExBTL Renewable Diesel is also a good performer in environmental terms. When produced from sustainably sourced raw materials, its total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions are 40-60% less than those of conventional diesel fuel. In addition, NExBTL has lower tailpipe emissions, contributing to better air quality.
The main raw material planned for the Singapore plant will be palm oil. Neste Oil has committed itself to only using palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) as soon as sufficient quantities are available. Palm oil complying with the RSPO certification system, which was approved in November 2007, will probably be available from the early part of 2008 onwards.
Singapore is the world’s third-largest center of oil refining, and occupies a central location in terms of product and feedstock flows and logistics. This also gives Singapore excellent potential to develop into a center for Asian biofuel production. Singapore is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and has committed itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The government of Singapore has played an important role in promoting Neste Oil’s investment, and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) has assisted Neste Oil at every stage of the preparations for the project. The EDB will also support the investment through e.g. R&D support and assistance with recruiting and training personnel.
Construction of the Singapore plant will begin in the first half of 2008, and the facility is due to be completed by the end of 2010. The plant will be built in the Tuas industrial zone in the southwest of the island, around 30 minutes from the centre of Singapore. The plant will be integrated into the area’s existing industrial infrastructure, and will make use of local site utilities and port and storage services. When operational, the plant will employ around 100 people.
Source: Neste Oil Corporation, press release, 2007-11-30.