Neste Oil and Total have decided to discontinue their project to build a NExBTL plant to produce diesel fuel from renewable raw materials at a Total refinery in France.
Feasibility studies on the project, which was announced in summer 2005, determined that building the plant at Dunkirk would have proved too expensive. Neste Oil’s other NExBTL projects continue as planned. In 2005, Total announced it would spend €500 million through 2010 on biofuels, synthetic fuels, greenhouse gas reduction, renewable energies and hydrogen. (Earlier post.)
Neste Oil has a similar NExBTL plant in the final stage of construction at its Porvoo refinery in Finland and due to come on stream in the first half of this year. Recently the company decided to build a second identical plant at the same site due to be commissioned towards the end of 2008. (Earlier post.)
The two plants at Porvoo will have a combined output of some 340,000 t/a and are projected to cost a total of approximately €200 million (US$259 million). In addition, Neste Oil is working on plans with OMV to build a renewable diesel fuel plant based on NExBTL technology at a site near Vienna, Austria.(Earlier post.)
The Neste NExBTL process and resulting product differ from both the transesterification process used to produced fatty acid methyl ester (biodiesel) and the gasification and Fischer-Tropsch conversion used in BTL projects.
The proprietary NExBTL process hydrogenates the vegetable oil or animal fat feedstock (using hydrogen from the refinery) to produce a hydrotreated “biodiesel” that has similar fuel qualities to BTL or GTL. NExBTL in testing reduced PM and NOx emissions even further than GTL.
Rapidly growing diesel production capacity based on renewables is an important priority for us, and we have committed ourselves to investing substantially in the field. Our technology is clearly ahead of what is currently available, as it provides refiners with the widest range of possible raw material inputs and results in the highest-quality output. Given the accelerated public discussion around climate change, and the potential biofuels offer for helping here, I believe that we will move ahead on a number of NExBTL projects over the next few years.—Risto Rinne, Neste Oil President & CEO