Itailian oil and gas company partners to build biorefinery

| June 02, 2011

Two Italian-based companies have formed a joint venture to build a biorefinery at a petrochemical plant in Italy. Through the agreement, Eni, an Italian oil and gas company, and Novamont, a bioplastics and biobased products developer also based in Italy, will work to build a “biorefinery integrated in the local area,” according to the companies. The biorefinery will be refered to as a “Green Centre” and will be located at the Porto Torres petrochemcial plant owned by Eni.

Eni will assist in the design, construction and management of the facility that will eventually produce biomonomers, biolubricants, biofillers, biointermediates or additives, elastomers and finally bioplastics, all of which will be produced from renewable resources like agricultural waste or MSW. The two companies hope to create a “supply chain integration with the development of local crops” as well.

Included in the project are sustainability goals the companies are aiming for that include the strategic link to local crops to guarantee access to raw materials, “with the reuse of waste a priority; facilities that are sized right for their energy requirements; and an emphasis on further research and development.

The Porto Torres Green Centre will cost roughly $18 million to build and the intial plans will follow a three-step approach. First, the joint venture will look to build facilities to produce biomonomers for bioplastics, biolubricants and additives. Second, a facility to build biofillers will be constructed, and lastly, greater capacity will be added.

Novamont announced earlier this year that it will open a bioplastic facility in Connecticut. According to both firms, the project to locate the biorefinery at the existing petrochemical facility “aims to exert a positive influence on the entire national chemical industry, starting up a virtuous approach based on technological innovation and sustainability,” efforts they say will also help create jobs. The biorefinery will be the first built in Italy.

At the official signing of the joint venture were Italy’s undersecretary to the prime minister, Gianni Letta, minister of the environment Paolo Romani, Eni CEO Catia Bastioli and Novamont CEO Ugo Cappellacci and other prominent figures. The groundbreaking dates or construction completion dates have not been disclosed at this time.