Brazil’s ECB Group to build renewable diesel complex in Paraguay

By Ron Kotrba | February 25, 2019

A first-of-its-kind renewable diesel project in South America has moved one step closer to construction. Paraguay President Mario Abdo Benítez and Erasmo Carlos Battistella, president of Brazilian investment holding company ECB Group, met at Palacio de los López where a memorandum of understanding was signed Feb. 25 to continue ECB Group’s investments in Paraguay. The largest investment, the Omega Green renewable diesel complex, is worth more than $800 million.

The Paraguayan plant—South America’s first second-generation biofuels project of its kind, according to ECB Group—will be capable of producing up to 693,000 gallons per day of renewable diesel and synthetic paraffinic kerosene, or more than 250 MMgy. 

According to information Iuri Pitta with Analítica Comunicação, a public relations firm representing ECB Group, shared with Biodiesel Magazine, virtually all of the plant’s production will be destined for export markets such as the U.S., Europe and “other major markets.”

The Omega Green facility will be making its fuel out of soybean oil extracted with renewable hexane, animal fats and used cooking oil.

The hydrogen required for the renewable diesel hydrotreatment process will come not from reforming natural gas but rather through electrolysis of water with Germany-based ThyssenKrupp technology.

Crown Iron Works will supply soybean processing design and equipment, including oil extraction and treatment, and Honeywell’s UOP will supply a modular hydrotreatment plant for the facility.

The entire complex will be fueled by renewable energy and will feature steam generation from biomass and the treatment of all wastes and byproducts.

“Our goal is to have the most clean and renewable biofuel production possible, unique in the world, certified by the most rigorous international quality and sustainability criteria,” Battistella said.

Battistella, one of the largest biodiesel producers in Brazil with two decades of activity in the agricultural and renewable energy sectors, said Paraguay has unique conditions for economic viability and sustainability of this project.

“It is a country with a significant supply of energy and water for hydrogen production, growth potential of the soybean crop, supply of other raw materials for biofuels and a very favorable business and logistics environment,” he said. 

The complex will be built on the banks of the Paraguay River and will have a logistic port and port terminal, with flow of production by waterway.

The project is expected to add more than $8 billion to the estimated gross domestic product of Paraguay over 10 years. More than 3,000 jobs will be generated during its construction and 2,400 direct and indirect jobs during operation. In addition, 10,000 small farmers and their families will benefit from the added soybean demand.

“Today is a very important day,” Battistella said. “We conclude the feasibility studies of Omega Green and go to the second phase, the stage of the executive project. We want to start the works still in 2019.”  

According to Pitta, an executive plan is expected to be complete before end of year. Construction is expected to last 30 months, and ECB Group plans to start full production in 2022.

 
 
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