Tidewater lets contract for renewable diesel, hydrogen complex at Prince George refinery

May 10, 2021

Calgary-based Tidewater Midstream and Infrastructure Ltd. has let a contract to Haldor Topsoe AS to provide process technology for a proposed renewable diesel and hydrogen complex to be built at the operator’s existing 12,000-b/d refinery in Prince George, BC.

As part of the contract, Topsoe will license its proprietary HydroFlex and H2bridge technologies for the complex that, pending final investment decision (FID), would become Canada’s first commercial-scale standalone renewable diesel plant, the service provider said on Apr. 15.

The grassroots renewable diesel plant—which would include construction of a pretreatment plant to allow Tidewater increased flexibility for processing of various renewable feedstocks—will use HydroFlex technology to produce 3,000 b/d of renewable diesel from a mix of 100% biomass-based feedstocks, while H2bridge technology would enable the complex to produce renewable hydrogen from renewable LPG or naphtha instead of conventional fossil feedstocks, according to Topsoe.

Last month, Tidewater—which the government of British Columbia has granted $100 million (Can.) in the form of provincial low carbon fuel credits (BC LCFS) to help complete the project—said it expects renewable diesel and hydrogen supplied by the planned complex would reduce annual carbon intensity (CI) and related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about 80-90% and 65-75%, respectively, compared with conventional diesel, or the equivalent of removing about 70,000-80,000 vehicles from the road annually.

In a Mar. 11 call with investors to report fourth-quarter 2020 earnings, Joel MacLeod, Tidewater’s chairman and chief executive officer, said the company expected to have an update on the status of FID on the complex within 90 days.

If approved, the proposed Prince George renewable diesel and hydrogen complex—which could reach startup as early as 2023—will require a total investment of about $225 million, of which Tidewater’s net capital contribution would be about $125 million considering the BC LCFS credits, MacLeod said.

Additional low-carbon initiatives

Tidewater also said in March it is completing a $10-million canola coprocessing project at the Prince George refinery scheduled to be completed during fourth-quarter 2021. Without disclosing further project details, Tidewater confirmed the coprocessing project was funded 100% by BC LCFS credits, requiring a zero-net capital contribution from the operator.

In 2022, Tidewater said it will begin capital spending on another carbon-reduction project at Prince George involving implementation of renewables coprocessing capability at the refinery’s existing fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit. Scheduled for start of construction in 2022 and for completion during the refinery’s next planned turnaround in spring 2023, the $10-million FCC coprocessing project for production of renewable gasoline also has received material support from the provincial government in the form of BC LCFS credits, according to the operator.

Regarding conventional crude processing at Prince George, MacLeod said in March that Tidewater has been executing unidentified debottlenecking and very small expansions at the site that has resulted in the refinery reaching near-record throughputs.