Neste Oil plans to invest approximately €550 million (US$812 million) to build a plant in Singapore to produce NExBTL Renewable Diesel. The plant will have a design capacity of 800,000 t/a—about 245 million gallons US annually—making it the world’s largest facility producing diesel fuel from renewable feedstocks to date.
The plant will be based on Neste Oil’s proprietary NExBTL technology for the high-pressure hydrotreatment of fatty acids—a second-generation biofuel process that produces a pure hydrocarbon fuel (bio-hydrocarbon). The process can use a flexible input of any vegetable oil or animal fat and produce a product with characteristics similar to Fischer-Tropsch output. (Earlier post.) 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 Renewable Diesel is a premium fuel that outperforms conventional petroleum diesel fuel, and can be used in existing vehicles and distributed in existing logistics systems. 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.
Based on tests performed, use of NExBTL diesel can deliver emissions reductions such as the following:
10% less nitrogen oxides
28% less small particle emissions
50% less hydrocarbons
28% less carbon monoxide
40-45% less aldehydes
40-45% less benzene
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 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, according to Neste. Singapore is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and has committed itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The government of Singapore played an important role in promoting Neste Oil’s investment, and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) 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.