Pertamina to scale up renewable diesel production in Indonesia

By Ron Kotrba | July 23, 2020

Following a successful production trial of 100 percent renewable diesel (RD100), Indonesia’s state-owned oil company Pertamina is ready to scale up its investments in renewable diesel, biobased jet fuel and green gasoline.

Pertamina concluded a production trial in July of RD100 from refined, bleached and deodorized palm oil (RBDPO) at its existing oil refinery in Dumai on the island of Sumatra. The weeklong trial run, performed earlier this month, demonstrated its ability to manufacture 1,000 barrels per day (15 MMgy) of RD100 following two previous trials coprocessing RBDPO at 7.5 and 12.5 percent.

“From this trial, it shows that we are ready in terms of the refinery and catalyst side, now we need to think so that the economic side can also be achieved,” said Nicke Widyawati, president director of Pertamina.

Besides Dumai, Pertamina plans to build a standalone renewable diesel unit at its Plaju refinery in southern Sumatra with a production capacity of 20,000 barrels per day (307 MMgy). In addition, Pertamina will also build another smaller unit at its refinery in Cilacap on the island of Java scaled at 6,000 barrels per day (92 MMgy). Both will eventually able to produce renewable diesel and biobased jet fuel. Budi Santoso Syarif, vice director of PT Kilang Pertamina International, said trials will be run at the Cilacap refinery by the end of this year to produce renewable jet fuel.

The company also has plans to produce green gasoline following trials over the past three years. Budi added that in addition to manufacturing green fuels from palm oil, Pertamina would develop fuels from other renewable resources such as algae, wheat, sorghum and more.

Pertamina has been instrumental in Indonesia’s biodiesel program, using fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) since 2006. According to Nicke, about 11.5 percent of the 42 to 46 million metric tons of palm oil is used for biodiesel production. In 11 years, from 2006 to 2017, FAME absorption reached 2.43 billion gallons, according to Pertamina. In 2018, Pertamina implemented the B20 Program in which FAME absorption surpassed 845 million gallons mixed in 69 locations. Through the B30 Program, in 2019, FAME absorption will increase sharply and by 2020 it is targeted to increase to 2.21 billion gallons.


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