Vertex Energy’s Mobile Refinery Begins Renewable Diesel Production
05.06.2023 By TankTerminals.com - NEWS

May 6, 2023 [Oil&GasJournal] – Houston-based Vertex Energy Inc. has commissioned the first phase of its renewable diesel conversion project at Vertex Refining Alabama LLC’s 75,000-b/d refining and petrochemical complex in Mobile, Ala.

 

Houston-based Vertex Energy Inc. has commissioned the first phase of its renewable diesel conversion project at Vertex Refining Alabama LLC’s 75,000-b/d refining and petrochemical complex in Mobile, Ala. (OGJ Online, Sept. 12, 2022).

With a planned production capacity of 8,000-10,000 b/d, Phase 1 of the project—which reached mechanical completion on Mar. 31—is now producing renewable diesel from a primary feedstock of locally sourced soybean oil, Vertex said on May 1.

Part of the operator’s strategy to foster a stable transition to renewable energy sources in line with the global energy transition while continuing to support the site’s existing infrastructure for production of conventional fuels, the first $115-million phase of the project involved the conversion of a standalone hydrocracking unit at the refinery that previously produced olefins as feedstock for petrochemical manufacturers.

While soybean oil serves as Phase 1’s initial feedstock, the plant’s design will enable production of renewable diesel from a range of organic, pretreated feedstocks that—alongside soybean oil—includes corn oil, meat tallow, and waste vegetable oils, among others, much of which Vertex plans to secure from local farmers and suppliers.

“By sourcing feedstock locally within our own state, Vertex fosters economic growth opportunities from farm-to-facility and offers low-carbon fuel products that contribute to a cleaner environment, not only here in our beautiful Alabama, but across the nations where these products are sold,” said Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey in an Apr. 28 ceremony to celebrate the project’s commissioning.

Formal startup of the project’s Phase 1 production follows Vertex’s mid-April confirmation that it had increased its first-quarter 2023 capital expenditure guidance to $65-70 million from $30-35 million, the result of moving $35 million of planned second-quarter spending to accommodate some items related to Phase 2 of the renewable diesel project (OGJ Online, Apr. 14, 2023).

In a project update issued on Apr. 4, Vertex said additional hydrogen production infrastructure and equipment had already arrived on site in preparation for Phase 2 development.

Designed to expand renewable diesel production to 14,000 b/d, Phase 2 of the project involves the addition of a new hydrogen plant that is slated for startup by year end 2023, Vertex said in its March 2023 presentation to investors.

In February 2022, Idemitsu Apollo Renewable Corp. entered a master offtake agreement with Vertex to purchase all of the Mobile refinery’s renewable diesel production up to a maximum volume of 14,000 b/d, provided it meets certain specifications, according to Vertex’s 2022 annual report published in late-February 2023.

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