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Cepsa secures feedstock for 1-billion-euro renewable diesel, SAF project through new joint venture

Photo: Cepsa

Cepsa and Bio-Oils, Apical’s biofuels entity in Huelva, Spain, have created a joint venture to promote the production of second-generation biofuels through the construction of the largest plant in southern Europe, announced by Cepsa in March.

The facility, to be located at Cepsa’s La Rábida Energy Park in Palos de la Frontera (Huelva), will entail an investment of up to 1 billion euros (USD$1.1 billion), one of the largest private investments in the history of the southern Spanish region of Andalusia.

Photo: Cepsa

The new plant will secure the majority of the feedstock supply from organic waste such as agricultural residue or used cooking oils through a global, long-term agreement with Apical, Bio-Oils’ parent company, enabling it to address one of the key challenges facing the industry—access to feedstock.

Second-generation biofuels promote the circular economy by using waste for their production that could otherwise end up in landfills.

Cepsa will contribute its technical expertise and experience in the development of large industrial projects and fuel production as well as its knowledge of the European market and the decarbonization goals of its customers in the transport sector.

Apical and Bio-Oils will ensure the supply of raw materials and contribute their own expertise in biofuels production.

The new plant, which will create approximately 2,000 direct and indirect jobs during its construction and operation phase, will include two pretreatment units and the capacity for flexible annual production of 500,000 tons (approximately 165 million gallons) of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel for land, sea and air transportation.

The plant is scheduled to begin operating in the first half of 2026.

The facility will be constructed with the latest technology specifically created for the production of these types of biofuels.

Designed as a digital native plant, the new operation incorporates state-of-the-art technology including the latest industry advances in artificial intelligence, internet of things (IoT) and data analysis to maximize process efficiency and ensure the highest standards of safety and environmental protection.

The sustainable fuels developed in this new plant will save 1.5 million tons of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to 30 percent of emissions in the province of Huelva.

The use of biofuels can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90 percent compared to traditional fuels, making biofuels a key element in enabling a fair energy transition to decarbonize transportation, particularly in sectors where electrification is complex, such as heavy road, maritime and air transportation.

Cepsa’s chemical business will also benefit from this project having access to organic-waste feedstocks for the production of their sustainable-product portfolio.

The project was presented April 14 at La Rábida Energy Park with the participation of Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla, president of the regional government of Andalusia; Maarten Wetselaar, Cepsa CEO; Óscar García, Bio-Oils CEO; and Dato’ Yeo How, the president of Apical Group.

“Cepsa has been investing in Huelva and Andalusia for almost 60 years and has been an active part and main player in the progress experienced in our land,” Bonilla highlighted in his speech. “Cepsa has made an outstanding contribution to our progress and to the creation of employment, with almost 8,000 direct and indirect jobs. Big bets like Cepsa’s confirm that we are on the right track.”

Wetselaar added, “This alliance is a decisive step in our strategy to lead biofuels in Spain and Portugal and positions Andalusia as a European benchmark in sustainable-energy production and circular economy. Second-generation biofuels are an immediate solution to support our customers’ energy as they can be used in conventional engines, while enabling local development and increased energy autonomy in Europe.”

García said, “Cepsa has been Bio-Oils’ largest customer for many years. We share many operational advantages such as interconnection and operating adjacent facilities and using the Reina Sofia berth for the charge/discharge of our products through Cepsa vessels. This new joint venture is a natural evolution of our existing relationship.”

How added, “We believe wider use of SAF and renewable diesel provides significant benefits on a global scale, both in terms of mitigating the effects of climate change and promoting sustainable economic growth. Apical’s ample supply of high-quality second-generation feedstock is key to ensuring the new joint venture delivers on our shared vision to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in land, sea and air transport.”

The construction of this new plant is part of Cepsa’s objective to lead the manufacture of second-generation biofuels in Spain and Portugal.

The company will have an annual production of 2.5 million tons of biofuels by 2030, of which 800,000 tons will be of SAF, enough sustainable aviation fuel to fly around the planet 2,000 times.

This alliance is in line with the European Green Deal and the European Commission’s Fit for 55 package, which includes a legislative initiative called “RefuelEU Aviation” that aims to boost the supply and demand of aviation biofuels in the European Union to 2 percent use by 2025, 5 percent by 2030 and 63 percent by 2050.

The agreement will serve to position Spain as a benchmark in the supply of SAF to airlines.


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