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  • Writer's pictureRon Kotrba

Italy’s Eni works Sub-Saharan African countries into renewable diesel feedstock supply chain

Updated: Oct 8, 2021

Castor bean plants

The CEO of Italian energy and renewable diesel company Eni S.p.A., Claudio Descalzi, has signed two memorandums of understanding (MOU) in recent days with two Sub-Saharan African nations, the Congo and Angola, on joint development of the agro-biofuel sector in both countries.

The MOU with Congo “sets the framework for the industrial scale production of castor oil, to provide feedstock for Eni’s biorefinery system, while also creating employment opportunities and expanding agricultural activities to marginal and abandoned lands, avoiding impacts on agricultural areas and activities currently destined for food production,” Eni stated.

The pilot phase is set to begin in October with castor bean sowing activities on roughly 500 acres and as many as 1,000 beneficiaries. According to Eni, the industrial-development phase is expected to see cultivations on 370,000 acres with up to 90,000 beneficiaries by 2030.

The MOU with Angola intends to develop a decarbonization path for the nation through a circular-economy approach, “assessing in particular the development of low-ILUC (indirect land‐use change) cultivations such as castor beans on degraded lands and cover crops in rotation with cereals,” Eni stated. “As part of the MOU, the parties will also evaluate business opportunities in the areas of waste collection, with the purpose of valorizing the organic fraction, and biorefining. The MOU is in line with Eni’s commitment to accelerate the energy transition in fossil fuel- producing countries, promoting the integration of the African continent into the biofuel value chain through agribusiness and industrial development initiatives aimed at the production of advanced biofuels, helping the decarbonization of the transport sector and promoting development opportunities.”

Eni has been involved in Congo for more than 50 years and Angola since 1980.

Descalzi also met with leaders in Benin and Côte d’Ivoire recently to discuss similar arrangements, although no agreements were signed.

In July, Eni entered into a similar MOU with the government of Kenya, which involves the possibility of converting an asset in Mombasa, Kenya, into a biorefinery.

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