Eni-PBF Energy joint venture begins renewable diesel production

June 29, 2023
PBF Energy and an Eni SPA subsidiary have started production at 50-50 joint venture St. Bernard Renewables LLC’s biorefinery co-located at PBF Energy subsidiary Chalmette Refining's dual-train coking refinery in Chalmette, La.

PBF Energy Inc. and partner Eni SPA subsidiary Eni Sustainable Mobility SPA (ESM) have started production at 50-50 joint venture (JV) St. Bernard Renewables LLC’s (SBR) new biorefinery co-located at PBF Energy subsidiary Chalmette Refining LLC’s 185,000-b/d dual-train coking refinery in Chalmette, St. Bernard Parish, La.

SBR’s biorefinery officially commenced operations of its main unit, which began commercial production of renewable diesel in June, Eni and PBF Energy said in separate releases on June 28.

With an associated pretreatment unit at the site designed to process 1.1 million tonnes/year (tpy) of renewable materials such as soybean oil, corn oil, and other biogenically derived fats and oils into feedstocks also now mechanically completed and due for startup in the coming weeks, SBR’s Chalmette plant remains on track to ramp up to its full renewable diesel production capacity of 306 million gal/year this year, the partners said.

Confirmation of the biorefinery’s main unit startup follows mechanical completion earlier this year on project involving retrofitting of an idled, conventional hydrocracking unit at the refinery with the Eni-Honeywell UOP LLC codeveloped proprietary Ecofining process technology to enable production of renewable diesel (OGJ Online, May 5, 2023).

The SBR renewables plant and related project infrastructure comes as part of PBF Energy’s proposed JV with ESM that, formed in February, officially closed on June 28, Eni and PBF Energy confirmed.

“Closing the [SBR] biorefinery 50% acquisition and creating a dedicated joint venture together with [PBF Energy] confirms the relevance of biofuels in [ESM], which is already running two biorefineries in Italy, and it is a further step on the path to decarbonize [transportation], including [hard-to-abate] sectors such as heavy duty [transportation],” said Stefano Ballista, ESM’s chief executive officer.

Closing of the JV enables ESM to immediately increase its renewable refining capacity to more than 1.6 million tpy from 1.1 million tpy, ushering the operator closer to its goal of reaching more than 3 million tpy by 2025 and more than 5 million tpy by 2030, as well as helping Eni in its overall strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 via reduction of emissions generated during the entire products life cycle, Ballista added.

For PBF Energy, closing of the SBR JV demonstrates the operator’s commitment to delivering diversified sources of energy to customers, while lowering the carbon intensity of the products it manufactures, said Matthew Lucey, PBF Energy’s president.

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, PBF Energy previously said the SBR project forms part of its plan to prepare the Louisiana refinery for a green energy transition.

The partnership did not specify a precise date for when SBR’s Chalmette plant would reach full production rates for renewable diesel and other products.