April 24, 2023 [Argus] – Abu Dhabi-owned Cepsa said it plans to build a 500,000 t/yr second-generation hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) plant in southern Spain in partnership with Bio Oils, the Spanish subsidiary of Singapore-based palm oil producer Apical.
The plant will be located near the city of Huelva, where Cepsa operates a 220,000 b/d refinery and Bio Oils runs a 500,000 t/yr fatty acid methyl ester (Fame) biodiesel facility. Cepsa is Bio Oils’ main customer and the pair share port installations and vessels in Huelva. Cepsa announced plans for an HVO facility at Huelva last month, putting the cost of the project at €1bn ($1.05bn). That investment will now be shared with Bio Oils.
Feedstock supply for the new plant has been secured through a long-term contract with Apical, which operates eight palm oil refineries, four biodiesel facilities and two palm kernel crushing facilities worldwide. Apical sold over 11mn t of palm oil products in 2021. Cepsa said it will source “organic waste such as agricultural residue” and used cooking oil (UCO) from Apical and this will make up most of the plant’s feedstock.
Cepsa expects the HVO plant to come on stream in the first half of 2026, taking the firm towards its target to produce 2.5mn t/yr of biofuels by 2030, including 800,000 t/yr of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Cepsa’s existing biofuels production capacity at Huelva and its other Spanish refinery — the 244,000 b/d Algeciras complex — had increased to 705,000 t/yr by the end of 2022 from 578,000 t/yr a year earlier.
Cepsa is focusing on biofuels and renewable hydrogen to achieve a target to reduce its scope 1 and 2 CO2 emissions by 55pc in 2030 and to become carbon neutral by 2050. The firm recently announced an acceleration of its renewable hydrogen capacity rollout in Huelva, where it now expects to have 400MW of electrolyser capacity on line in 2026, up from 200MW previously. This will be in time to supply the new HVO plant with renewable hydrogen for the hydrotreatment process.
Cepsa, which is controlled by Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth investor Mubadala, has said that the 1GW of hydrogen electrolysis capacity it expects to have on line at Huelva in 2030 should be enough to decarbonise its own fuels and petrochemicals business as well as the fertilizer business of Fertiberia, one of its partners in Huelva.
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