Southern Oil Refining has confirmed it will build a $16 million advanced biofuels pilot plant at its facility in Gladstone, with a view to supplying the Australian Defence Forces.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant represented an exciting step in the development of an advanced biofuels industry for Queensland.
If successful, the pilot plant will be expanded to a large commercial-scale refinery, which will cost $150 million and produce 200 million litres of advanced biofuel annually, suitable for military, marine and aviation use.
Ms Palaszczuk said it would be Australia’s first commercial-scale advanced biofuels production facility.
“A fully-fledged biofuels industry has the potential to play a key role in our economic future, and this pilot plant is a giant step towards achieving that goal,” she said.
“This pilot plant is essentially the launch site for a Queensland biofuels industry. If we can develop this plant into a large-scale refinery, that’ll mean jobs here in Gladstone, but it could also kick off a new wave of investment and job creation across Queensland.”
Southern Oil Refining currently operates a waste lube oil re-refining plant in Yarwun as a joint venture with JJ Richards & Sons. The $70 million plant is the only such facility in Queensland, and has the potential to process all of the 100 million litres of waste lube oil produced in the state each year. The new advanced biofuels pilot plant will be co-located within this site. It will use biomass material such as sugarcane bagasse and possibly prickly acacia as feedstock for the production of bio crude oil, which will then be distilled into saleable kerosene and diesel products.
Southern Oil Refining Managing Director Tim Rose said he was delighted to announce his company’s decision to locate the biofuel pilot plant in Gladstone.
“For the past few months, we have been assessing whether to site this important piece of technology at our Wagga Wagga plant in New South Wales or at our new re-refinery in Gladstone,” Mr Rose said.
“Our decision was made easier with the announcement of the Queensland Government’s Bio Futures Roadmap which is the only forward-thinking policy in Australia in this critical area.”
State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the biofuels industry could form part of a broader biotechnology sector that holds enormous potential for the state.
“Together with the Biofutures Roadmap and 10-year action plan that will be completed by mid-year, this project will help position Queensland as a leader in the biofuels industry,” Dr Lynham said.
The pilot plant is expected to be operational by later this year and within the next three years aims to have produced one million litres of fuel for use in field trials by the US navy as part of its Great Green Fleet initiative, and also by the Australian Navy.
Mr Rose said his company had been working with the Australian Defence Force for some time to develop green fuel technology that satisfied the requirements of the US and Royal Australian navies and the Great Green Fleet vision.
“The results of our preliminary investigations have been very encouraging and we’re now ready to move to this one million litres a year pilot plant,” Mr Rose added.
“Once our biofuel is accepted by both navies, it will open the door to a commercial scale refinery capable of meeting the ADF’s needs and provide green fuel opportunities for aviation and other heavy transport industries – and Queensland will be a world leader in this space.”