• Ron Kotrba

Small Philadelphia firm boasts big plans for Panama

Updated: May 20


Image: SGP BioEnergy

SGP BioEnergy claims it will build “the world’s largest biofuels production and distribution hub” in Panama.


A May 18 press release issued by SGP BioEnergy, formerly known as SG Preston and still led by Randy LeTang, stated that “once complete in five years, Biorefineria Ciudad Dorada (Golden City Biorefinery), located in Colon and Balboa, Panama, will be the largest advanced biorefinery and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production platform in the world producing 180,000 barrels per day (2.6 billion gallons per year) of biofuel.”


However, further in the release, the company stated that “the refinery will be developed in three phases, each over a period of five years with the goal of increasing production by 60,000 barrels per day over each phase.” Therefore, according to this three-phase plan, the project’s first phase of more than 860 million gallons per year (mgy) is targeted for completion in five years, and the supposed final phase of 2.6 billion gallons a year of production capacity would not be complete for at least 15 years from now. Even so, the initial phase of 860 mgy would be massive—if it were actually built.


SG Preston has announced several renewable diesel and SAF projects over the years, but Biobased Diesel Daily was unable to confirm completion of any of them. SGP BioEnergy’s media contact Lillie Thurman at the public-relations firm Edelman did not respond to a request for additional information by the time of publication.


According to SGP BioEnergy, the project is being developed in partnership with private landowners, Panama Oil Terminals and the government of Panama. The company said it will repurpose existing facilities currently processing and storing 70 percent of the country’s bunker fuel oil to the refinement and storage of biofuels derived from purpose-grown plant oils, waste fats and greases.


“Our country welcomes this biofuels production and logistics facility that will help Latin America and the world in the energy transition and contribute to climate-change innovation,” said Laurentino Cortizo, the president of Panama. “Panama’s unique geographic position, existing logistics platform, and special economic zones make it the perfect place for this facility. … [I]t has the potential to stimulate Panama’s agricultural sector by producing bioenergy feedstocks locally.”


SGP BioEnergy claims to have partnered with Goldman Sachs to “finance the project” by “identify[ing] investors that shared the company’s vision for a better energy mix…” It added that “Panama was an ideal partner to support the financial potential of the project given its free zones, commitment to clean energy innovation and global platform to transport the fuels to over 1,000 ports around the world.”


The company also said it has selected EPC company Fluor and its Mexico-based affiliate ICA Fluor to perform the front-end engineering study. SGP BioEnergy stated it plans to license Topsoe’s HydroFlex™ and H2bridge™ process technologies.


“We are excited about this project due to a lot of local support, access to feedstock and a skilled project team,” Henrik Rasmussen, Topsoe’s managing director for the Americas, told Biobased Diesel Daily. “We look forward to seeing this very large unit in operation.”


Topsoe has been awarded more than a dozen projects for its process technology, totaling roughly 9.4 billion gallons per year of renewable fuels capacity, but as Rasmussen pointed out, not all of these are in operation yet.

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