Sarah Vogler, 29 March 2016

PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk has travelled to Gladstone to announce a new $16 million biofuels plant for the area, a move she says is the next step in building a biofuels industry in the state.

Ms Palaszczuk said if successful, the Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant will be expanded to a large commercial-scale refinery costing $150 million and producing 200 million litres of advanced biofuel annually, suitable for military, marine and aviation use.

The plant will be built at Southern Oil Refining’s Yarwun plant at Gladstone and will be the country’s first commercial scale advanced biofuels production facility.

It will use biomass material such as sugarcane bagasse and possibly prickly acacia as feedstock for the production of bio crude oil, which will then be distilled into saleable kerosene and diesel products.

“A fully-fledged biofuels industry has the potential to play a key role in our economic future, and this pilot plant is a giant step towards achieving that goal,” Ms Palaszczuk said in a statement.

“This pilot plant is essentially the launch site for a Queensland biofuels industry. If we can develop this plant into a large-scale refinery, that’ll mean jobs here in Gladstone, but it could also kick off a new wave of investment and job creation across Queensland.

“And with the Government’s help, we have managed to get this investment out of New South Wales and into Queensland — something I’m keen to see more of.”

The pilot plant is expected to be operational by later this year and within the next three years aims to have produced one million litres of fuel for use in field trials by the US navy as part of its Great Green Fleet initiative, and also by the Australian Navy.

Southern Oil Refining currently operates a waste lube oil re-refining plant at Yarwun in the Gladstone State Development Area as a joint venture with JJ Richards & Sons.

Southern Oil Refining Managing Director Tim Rose said his company had been working with the Australian Defence Force to develop green fuel technology that satisfied the requirements of the US and Royal Australian navies and the Great Green Fleet vision.

“The results of our preliminary investigations have been very encouraging and we’re now ready to move to this one million litres a year pilot plant,” Mr Rose said.

“Once our biofuel is accepted by both navies, it will open the door to a commercial scale refinery capable of meeting the ADF’s needs and provide green fuel opportunities for aviation and other heavy transport industries — and Queensland will be a world leader in this space.”

Extracted in full from the Courier Mail.