PBF Energy lets contract for proposed Chalmette refinery renewables project

Aug. 23, 2021

PBF Energy Inc. has let a preliminary contract to Honeywell UOP LLC to license technology for possible implementation of a renewable diesel project at subsidiary Chalmette Refining LLC’s 185,000-b/d dual-train coking refinery in Chalmette, St. Bernard Parish, La., outside of New Orleans.

As part of the Aug. 5 agreement, UOP would deliver licensing of its Eni SPA-codeveloped proprietary Ecofining technology to retrofit an existing hydrocracking unit at the refinery idled since 2010 to enable 20,000-b/d of renewable diesel production, UOP said.

Should the project advance, the revamped unit would produce Honeywell Green Diesel fuel, which is chemically identical to petroleum-based diesel and can be used as a drop-in replacement in vehicles with no engine modifications, according to the service provider.

If realized, implementation of the single-stage Ecofining technology would enable the Chalmette refinery to begin renewable diesel production before competitors are able to get their units online, according to Matt Lucey, PBF Energy’s president.

“This project would also maximize the benefits of Chalmette’s strategic [US} Gulf Coast location with excellent water, rail, and truck access to domestic and global markets with the strongest demand for renewable diesel, enabling us to realize highest rates of return,” Lucey said.

In its second-quarter 2021 earnings report to investors on July 29, PBF Energy said it was currently in advanced discussions with potential partners for the proposed project, with further updates—including a final investment decision—to come in the coming months.

Project background

Upon first announcing the project in June, PBF Energy said the proposed $550-million hydrocracker retrofitting project would include construction of a pretreatment unit at the manufacturing site to allow Chalmette Refining to process renewable materials such as soybean oil, corn oil, and other biogenically derived fats and oils into feedstocks for the revamped unit.

In addition to helping the Chalmette refinery meet the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard mandates for blending of renewable fuels into the diesel pool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the proposed unit conversion forms part of PBF Energy’s recovery efforts from economic impacts sustained as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the company’s plan to prepare the refinery for a green energy transition.

The Chalmette refinery—which PBF Energy acquired from ExxonMobil Corp. and Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) in 2015—is equipped with flexibility to source and process a mix of light and heavy crudes to produce mostly gasoline, distillates, and specialty chemicals for distribution locally and abroad via connecting pipeline and maritime assets (OGJ Online, Nov. 2, 2015).