PETRONAS, Eni and Euglena to explore biorefinery opportunity in Malaysia

Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC), one of the largest integrated refinery and petrochemical developments in Southeast Asia.

Petroliam Nasional Berhad, Eni S.p.A and Euglena Co., Ltd. are jointly studying the possibility of developing and operating a biorefinery in the Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC), one of the largest integrated refinery and petrochemical developments in Southeast Asia.

The three parties are currently carrying out technical and economic feasibility assessments for the proposed project, with the investment decision expected to be reached by 2023 and the plant targeted to be completed by 2025. To be located adjacent to PETRONAS’ existing integrated refinery and petrochemical facilities, the biorefinery will be able to leverage the company’s integrated value chain as well as existing utilities and facilities in PIC. The complex’s strategic location with easy access to major international shipping lanes will also enhance the planned refinery’s ability to cater for the rising demand for sustainable solutions worldwide.

The biorefinery is expected to have a flexible configuration to maximise the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for aircraft as well as Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO) for on-road vehicles, diesel-powered trains, and marine transportation. This flexibility will enable the production to meet the ever-changing and growing energy demands of customers.

The biorefinery is also expected to have the capability to process about 650,000 tonnes per year of raw materials to produce up to 12,500 barrels per day of biofuels, namely SAF, HVO, and bio-naphtha. The raw materials to be used will not compete with those in the food chain such as used vegetable oils, animal fats, waste from the processing of vegetable oils, and other biomass including microalgae oils to be explored in the mid-term.

“As PETRONAS continues to chart its course into the biofuels space, decarbonising and diversifying its production portfolio to cater for the rising global demand for sustainable solutions, this collaboration is momentous to unlock the partners’ respective strengths and jointly strengthen our position in the field of biofuels in Malaysia and around the world,” said Ahmad Adly Alias, Vice President, Refining, Marketing and Trading of PETRONAS’ Downstream business.

PETRONAS is the first Asian energy company to declare its Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050 aspiration and had recently been involved in a partnership to supply SAF for Malaysia Airlines’ first commercial cargo and passenger flights using the cleaner and more viable fuel option.

It is also exploring other ventures into the biofuels space via co-processing at its existing facilities and other channels. In the same vein, PETRONAS has also renewed its decade-long partnership as the Title and Technical Partner of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team ahead of the 2026 season as the motorsport shifts towards sustainable fuel. This is in line with PETRONAS’ commitment not just to its larger bio-fuel agenda, but to also develop and deliver clean energy solutions to its partners and customers.

The planned biorefinery will use the Honeywell UOP’s Ecofining process which was developed by Eni in cooperation with Honeywell UOP.

Giuseppe Ricci, Chief Operating Officer for Energy Evolution at Eni, said: “For the biorefinery project to develop together with Euglena and PETRONAS in Malaysia, Eni is pleased to share its experience and its breakthrough technologies that enabled the company to make the world’s first conversion of a refinery into a biorefinery in Porto Marghera (Venice) in 2014, and to inaugurate a second one in Gela, Sicily in 2019.”

Eni plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 through a decarbonisation pathway that aims to reduce the emissions generated throughout the entire products life cycle. To achieve this goal, in the area of mobility Eni combines all solutions synergically: the role of biofuels is decisive because they represent an energy carrier that can immediately make a contribution to the decarbonisation of transport. HVO, of which Eni is the only Italian producer and the second in Europe, can be used either added to diesel fuel or in pure form in all approved engines: 100%-pure HVO enables CO2 emission reductions of 60% to 90% (calculated throughout the lifecycle), depending on the feedstock, compared to the standard fossil fuel mix. In addition, currently biofuels are also a real solution for decarbonizing the aviation sector: Eni Biojet is the SAF produced at Eni’s Livorno refinery, in cooperation with Eni’s Gela biorefinery. It is mixed 20% into Eni Jet Fuel; and from 2024, production of an additional 150 thousand tons/year of Eni Biojet will be started in Gela, able to meet the potential blending obligation of the Italian market for 2025.

Euglena is Japan’s leading biotechnology-driven and sustainability-oriented growth company that is proven by winning two Prime Minister Prizes in 2015 (Start-up award) and 2021 (SDGs award). With its R&D capabilities such as mass cultivation technology of the microalgae “Euglena”, Euglena has rapidly grown the Healthcare Business and been engaged in establishing the Biofuel Business. Euglena completed Japan’s first demonstration plant producing renewable jet and diesel fuels in 2018 and has supplied its products to corporates and organisations covering land, air and marine areas across the country. Recently, Euglena became Japan’s first supplier that introduced domestic SAF to the hydrant system of Narita International Airport and completed Japan’s first supply of SAF to the governmental aircraft of Japan.

The Founder and President of Euglena, Mitsuru Izumo, said, “This project is a significant step for the commercialisation of our Biofuel business and our challenge to expediting biofuel usages and decarbonisation in Japan. I am extremely excited for the opportunity to work with the great partners of respective expertise and stride together for a brighter and cleaner future.”