World’s Biggest Biodiesel Plant Starts Up

Neste Oil starts up the world’s largest renewable diesel plant in Singapore which has an annual capacity of 800,000 tons. According to Neste’s information the construction costs were around US$ 550 million. The plant was completed on-schedule as well as on-budget.

“We are very proud of the new plant and the NExBTL technology behind it, which is based on our in-house R&D. NExBTL represents a major Finnish innovation in the field of renewable fuels and we believe that it has excellent potential in the global marketplace,” according to President & CEO Matti Lievonen.


Neste Oil’s NExBTL is produced by a patented refining process. The catalytic hydrogenation of plant oil (triglycerides) results in the corresponding alkanes.

NExBTL renewable diesel is a fuel that is compatible with all diesel engines and existing fuel distribution systems. It offers excellent performance at low temperatures and can be used either blended with fossil diesel or as such. NExBTL enables a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil diesel. Its lower tailpipe emissions also make a valuable contribution to enhancing overall air quality.

The Singapore production facility has about 120 employees. Neste Oil has a similar-sized plant under construction in Rotterdam, which is due to be commissioned in the first half of 2011. The company already operates two renewable diesel plants that came on stream at Porvoo in Finland in 2007 and 2009 with a combined capacity of 380,000 tons per year. The main markets for NExBTL diesel are Europe and North America.

NExBTL Plant Singapore

NExBTL Plant Singapore; Photo: Neste Oil

Sustainability Certification

Recently, Neste Oil has received an ISCC (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification) certificate for the NExBTL renewable diesel produced at the company’s Porvoo refinery in Finland. The certificate confirms that NExBTL diesel produced from certified raw materials is suitable for use in meeting mandated bio-content on the German market. Beginning in 2011, all biofuels sold in Germany will be required to have sustainability certification. The ISCC system is the first standard for sustainability based on the EU’s new renewable energy directive, and is approved by the German Federal Office of Agriculture and Food.

Certification was carried out by an independent third party, SGS, the world’s leading audit and certification company. Its findings showed that the procedures and documentation associated with the procurement of Neste Oil’s renewable raw materials and its NExBTL production and sales chains meet the requirements of the standard. An audit of Neste Oil’s major palm oil supplier is currently under way. In the future, Neste Oil’s other NExBTL production plants will also be audited in accordance with the ISCC standard.

Renewable Fuels Used On Scheduled Flights

Neste Oil and the German aviation company Lufthansa have signed a cooperative arrangement about Lufthansa’s commercial flights using NExBTL renewable jet fuel next spring. The agreement represents a major step forward for both companies, as this is the first time that renewable fuel is announced to be used on normal scheduled flights.

Flights will begin after official approval has been received from the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) allowing the use of jet fuel produced using NExBTL technology. This is expected to take place in spring 2011.


The company seems to be the largest investor and apparently the biggest producer in the biofuel sector. Investing more than half a billon US$ into one single plant is a tremendous sign. They want to earn money with clean technologies, and most obviously they will! Being among the first to capture rising opportunities will give some kind of pole position.

As a patented process is used for the production of NExBTL, questions rise whether this technology will also be licensed to other companies or will Neste Oil compete with “conventional” biodiesel – FAME (fatty acid methyl esters).

Update January 25th: According to the December issue of ICIS Chemical Business will NExBTL be competitive with petroleum diesel when the crude oil price is US$ 140 bbl!

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