• Ron Kotrba

Eni, BF Group partner to develop sustainable biobased diesel feedstocks

Photo: Eni S.p.A.

Italian oil company and renewable diesel producer Eni S.p.A. and the BF Group are partnering to develop sustainable agricultural products for renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production. Through a 50/50 joint venture, “projects will be developed to research and experiment with agricultural seeds from oil plants to be used as feedstock at Eni's biorefineries,” Eni stated Nov. 19.

In addition, the agreement between the companies provides for Eni to purchase a minority stake in BF Group’s Bonifiche Ferraresi subsidiary—Italy’s largest farm at 7,750 hectares (19,150 acres)—and “for Eni’s entry into BF’s share capital by means of a reserved capital increase,” Eni stated.

The testing and experimentation activities of the joint venture will be carried out at Bonifiche Ferraresi’s “Open Sky Laboratories” on the Italian island of Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea, and will assess the ability to replicate production processes currently used in Italy and African countries where Eni operates. The joint venture will also focus on development of feedstock training programs in project development sectors.

Eni has been working recently to forge new development agreements with Sub-Saharan African nations in order to secure the input materials necessary to feed its biorefineries, which were once petroleum refineries. The search for more sustainable feedstocks is heightened because the company will stop use of palm oil feedstock in 2023.

“The identification of the most suitable plant species will comply with the sustainability criteria defined in the European Directive on biofuels, promoting sustainable cultivation, protecting the soil and not taking away land that could be used for food production, thus promoting the sustainable economic development of marginal land in Italy and abroad,” Eni stated. “The initiative is part of Eni’s strategy for achieving full carbon neutrality by 2050, which includes green refining as a strategic element, with production capacity expected to double to around 2 million [metric] tons by 2024 and a further increase to 5-6 million tons expected by 2050.”

The new joint venture builds on previous collaborations in agriculture between the two companies, according to Eni, for development of economic diversification initiatives, skill transfer and support for entrepreneurship in Italy and abroad.

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