Neste Oil launches renewable diesel plant in Singapore

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 16 -- Neste Oil Corp. said it has launched operations at its new 800,000 tonne/year renewable diesel plant in Singapore, a €550 million facility described as the world’s largest.

“We are very proud of the new plant and the NExBTL technology behind it,” Neste Pres. and Chief Executive Officer Matti Lievonen said of the facility, which uses the firm’s proprietary technology to convert bio-based inputs into a fuel that closely resembles fossil diesel in chemical composition.

Neste's NExBTL renewable diesel is said to be compatible with all diesel engines and existing fuel distribution systems. The Neste Oil fuel allows for a 40-80% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions in comparison with fossil diesel, and its main markets are in Europe and North America.

In Singapore, Neste will produce its biodiesel from 100% renewable materials such as animal fat along with Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil.

Earlier this year, one executive said Neste would try to use 10-20% animal fats as feedstock, depending on availability, but that the primary feedstock would be palm oil. If no animal fat is available, the plant would need 1 million tpy of palm oil.

In its third-quarter report, Newste said the Singapore NExBTL plant will be ramped up “in steps to full capacity and there will be a time lag before output reaches the sales channel due to logistical reasons.” The report did not specify the reasons.

However, the Neste report did express concern over legislation in the “[European Union] and other key markets,” which could slow down development of the fuel.

“The implementation of biofuel legislation in the EU and other key markets may influence the speed at which the demand for these fuels develop,” the report said.

“Risks also include any problems or delays in completing the company's NExBTL renewable diesel investments or failure to capture the anticipated benefit from these investments,” the report said.

Neste’s Singapore plant is similar in size to another facility the firm is constructing in Rotterdam, which is due to be commissioned in first-half 2011.

The firm already operates two renewable diesel plants that came on stream at Porvoo in Finland in 2007 and 2009 with a combined capacity of 380,000 tpy (OGJ, Aug. 18, 2009).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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