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Southern Oil Refining to construct advanced biofuels plant in Queensland

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Energy Global,

Southern Oil Refining (Southern Oil), a private, 100% Australian owned re-refining company, is planning to construct a new biofuels pilot plant in Gladstone, Queensland. According to local reports, the AUS$16 million facility was initially planned for Wagga Wagga in New South Wales (NSW), however, due to the NSW government’s lack of enthusiasm for the project, the company decided on a site in Queensland.

“What we’re trying to do here is really one of the first of its kind in the world, so this is a pretty major step and … the Queensland government are fully behind this, whereas the NSW government really wasn’t,” Tim Rose, Managing Director of Southern Oil Refining, told local press.

The state of the art facility will produce bio-crude oil using biomass material, such as sugarcane bagasse, as feedstock. The resulting oil will be distilled into commercial kerosene and diesel products. The plant is scheduled to be operational later this year, with a target of producing 1 million l of fuel within three years.

Powering Australia’s defence force

The pilot plant represents the first stage of a AUS$650 million investment, which aims to produce enough diesel from biofuels to power the whole Australian defence force. According to Rose, in just four years time, a significant portion of Australia’s military hardware could be powered by biofuels.

If the pilot plant project is successful, there are already plans in place to transform the facility into an AUS$150 million commercial scale refinery, with a production capacity of 200 milion l/y of advanced biofuel, which will be suitable for use in the aviation, military and marine industries. Furthermore, the company has plans to establish approximately a dozen feeder plants within the state, which would source feedstock from waste destined for landfill (including weeds, wood waste, tyres, plastics, and human and animal waste).

According to Rose, by 2020 these facilities could produce around 200 million l/y of advanced biofuel diesel, which is roughly the same amount used by the Australian army, navy and air force each year.

“We could have a big green military force – powered by domestically produced fuel,” Rose told local press. “We won’t have to import crude into refineries which are shutting everywhere in any case. This will do a hell of a lot for fuel security.”

Sources: Southern Oil Refining, Hydrogen Fuel News, The Guardian, Waste Management World

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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