Australian company completes construction

By | January 24, 2007
Natural Fuel Australia Limited (NFAL) has completed construction of a $48 million biodiesel production facility in Darwin, Northern Territory. At press time, the facility was in the stage of commissioning, with full-scale production set for January 2007, according to the company.

NFAL broke ground in September 2005, and construction began in December 2005. The plant will produce 138 million liters per year (36 MMgy) of biodiesel out of refined, bleached and deodorized (RBD) palm oil.

On Dec. 21, NFAL issued its initial public offering (IPO) on the Australian Stock Exchange. A total of 55.7 million shares were sold, raising a total of AUS$83 million (US$65.4 million). It was the biggest biodiesel IPO in Australia to date.

Lurgi AG, a German biodiesel technology group, constructed the plant in modular form, a company spokesman told Biodiesel Magazine. It was built in Henderson, Western Australia, and then transported to Darwin.

The facility is strategically located next to the new Darwin Industry Fuel Terminal, the spokesman said. "The location of the Darwin plant provides NFAL with ready access to global supply chain logistics, including RBD palm olein imports from Malaysia and Indonesia, and advantageous distribution networking by road, rail and sea," he said.

NFAL has signed a biodiesel sale and purchase agreement, and two distribution agreements, for sale of up to 114 million liters per year (29 MMgy), the company said. That amounts to 82 percent of the plant's annual capacity.

Palm oil won't be the only feedstock used at the plant. "Natural Fuel has selected RBD palm olein as the preferred feedstock for its Darwin plant due to its historically low cost as compared with other feedstocks, and its ready availability," the spokesman said. "RBD soybean oil is to be used to complement the specification of biodiesel to be produced."

The finished product will meet the Australian standard for mineral diesel, making it eligible for a full rebate from the Australian diesel fuel excise and biodiesel tax credits. NFAL's product will also meet specifications for the United States and Europe.

The company is concerned with consistent quality and the sustainability of feedstock supply. Therefore, it is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a global nonprofit organization that states sustainable production of palm oil as its main concern. For that same reason, the company will only use certified palm oil feedstock, NFAL said.

The Darwin facility will also produce pharmaceutical-grade glycerin with a purity minimum of 99.7 percent. "Natural Fuel will refine the crude glycerin in order to produce the highest-quality pharmaceutical-grade glycerin, which can be sold into global markets at a substantial premium to that achieved by crude glycerin," the spokesman said.
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