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Neste Oil Biodiesel Plant, Singapore




Key Data


On 8 March 2011, Neste Oil opened the world's largest biodiesel plant in Tuas Industrial Zone, western Singapore. The refinery produces clean and renewable diesel called NExBTL.

The commercial-scale plant employs 120 people and has a capacity of 800,000 million tons a year, with production is expected to be increased in phases in future. The project is estimated to have cost about €550m (S$973m).

Neste Oil announced plans to build the plant in November 2007. Construction began in the first quarter of 2008 and completed in the fourth quarter of 2010. Production started in November 2010.

In January 2011, the refinery received the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) confirming that the diesel production was sustainable.

It also meets the sustainability criteria set by the EU's renewable energy directive.

"NExBTL has a chemical composition similar to that of fossil fuel diesel."

Feedstock

The feedstock for NExBTL diesel can be any mixture of waste animal fats and vegetable oils from the food industry.

The company has committed to use the palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. The by-products of palm oil, also used as the feedstock, are procured from Malaysia and Indonesia, while waste animal fats are sourced from New Zealand and Australia.

Technology

The biodiesel plant uses a proprietary technology developed by Neste Oil. Production involves hydrotreating of the vegetable and fat oils.

NExBTL has a chemical composition similar to that of fossil fuel diesel. However, it is more eco-friendly and efficient than conventional biodiesels and fossil fuels. It is free from oxygen, aromatics, sulphur and nitrogen, and has lower tailpipe emissions. It emits 40-60% fewer greenhouse gases in its lifecycle compared to fossil diesel.

The biofuel was put to several field tests in different compositions and as 0% to 100% blends with traditional diesel. The tests, conducted in Finland, Canada and Germany, reduced carbon dioxide emissions from buses and trucks.

Engineering, procurement and construction

The Greenfield project was set up in Singapore as it is one of the major centres for feedstock, logistics and product flows. The project was also assisted by the Singapore Economic Development Board.

The refinery is integrated into the existing industrial infrastructure of the Tuas industrial zone. The plant uses the readily available utilities, storage services and port.

In January 2008, Neste Oil awarded the engineering, procurement and construction management services contract for the plant to Technip. In September 2008, Rotary Engineering received S$37.9m contract from Technip to provide subcontractor services.

Foundation and civil engineering works for the NExBTL plant commenced in late 2008 and construction was officially started in March 2009. About 5,000 employees worked at the site during the peak of construction. The project involved contractors and workers from 13 countries and about 14 million man-hours.

Contractors and companies

In March 2008, CSC Holdings was awarded S$33m ($23.75m) contract for foundation works at the plant site. Scope of work included constructing 300km of ground piles to support heavy structures and installation of about 90km of pipe work.

In June 2008, Singapore Oxygen Air Liquide (Soxal), a subsidiary of Air Liquide, was awarded a long-term contract to supply hydrogen to the biodiesel plant. Soxal constructed a hydrogen unit and pipeline network extension of 30km to connect the Neste plant with Jurong Island, as well as a carbon dioxide purification and liquefaction unit.

"Neste Oil operates two NExBTL plants with a combined capacity of 380,000 million tons a year."

In September 2008, Tuas Power was awarded a 30-year service contract to supply multi-utilities such as steam supply, waste treatment, harbour operations, cooling water, and loading and storage services. Named as the Tuas Power Scope Project, it was valued at S$1bn ($697.47m). Neste Oil contracted Jacobs Engineering for the engineering, procurement and construction management services of this project.

In February 2009, Hiap Seng Engineering received a S$63m ($42.16m) contract for the fabrication of steel structures, and mechanical, piping and painting works for the plant. In July 2009, Rotary Engineering received another S$36m ($24.96m) contract for executing all the electrical and instrumentation works.

Marketing Commentary

Neste Oil operates two NExBTL plants with a combined capacity of 380,000 million tons a year (commissioned in 2007 and 2009) in Porvoo, Finland. The company is also constructing a plant in Rotterdam, the Netherlands (to be commissioned in mid-2011). When operational, it will increase the company's total production capacity to two million tons a year.

The NExBTL diesel is mainly marketed in North America and Europe as the governments of these countries have set mandates to sell bio-content fuels. It can be distributed using the same infrastructure and logistics systems used in that of fossil diesel.

The NExBTL Singapore plant was started up in November 2010.
The biofuel plant is the largest of its kind in the world and uses renewable feedstock.
Panoramic view of the plant located in the Tuas site.
Feedstock for NExBTL diesel plant can be any mixture of animal fat and vegetable oils.
A front view of the plant.
A sample of the NExBTL biodiesel.
Piping and storage tanks at Neste Oil's biodiesel facility.