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SGP BioEnergy to develop biofuel production and distribution hub in Panama

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

A team of foremost energy industry companies led by SGP BioEnergy has joined the Government of Panama to announce the development of one of the world's largest biofuels production and distribution hubs. Once complete in five years, Biorefineria Ciudad Dorada (Golden City Biorefinery), located in Colon and Balboa, Panama, will be one of the largest advanced biorefinery and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production platforms in the world, producing 180 000 bpd (2.6 billion gal./yr) of biofuel.

"Transportation makes up 27% of greenhouse gas emissions and the only way to decarbonise many sectors – like aviation – is to integrate fossil fuels with compatible biofuels," said Randy Delbert Letang, CEO of SGP BioEnergy. "This facility not only brings cleaner fuels online in the short term, but its construction at a central hub of global commerce, serving over 1000 ports, catalyses the industry in the long-term by immediately delivering a lower cost of biofuels, reducing waste and revolutionizing farm economics."

Developed in partnership with private landowners, Panama Oil Terminals (POTSA) and the government of Panama, this project will repurpose existing facilities currently processing and storing 70% of the country's bunker fuel oil to the refinement and storage of biofuels derived from purpose-grown plant oils, and waste fats and greases. It will immediately reduce the carbon output of the facility by 80%, revolutionising the economics in the region and supporting more than 1000 high-paying jobs.

"Our country welcomes this biofuels production and logistics facility that will help Latin America and the world in the energy transition and contribute to climate change innovation. Panama's unique geographic position, existing logistics platform, and special economic zones make it the perfect place for this facility. We are very excited about the 1000 jobs this investment will generate for the people of Colon and Panama. In addition, it has the potential to stimulate Panama's agricultural sector by producing bioenergy feedstocks locally," said Laurentino Cortizo, President of the Republic of Panama.

A key innovation that makes the facility possible is the proprietary technology of Topsoe that is in use at more than a dozen facilities around the world that have more than 650 000 bpd of renewable capacity.

Henrik Rasmussen, Managing Director, The Americas, Topsoe, stated: "We are very happy to license our HydroFlexTM and H2 BridgeTM technologies for this exciting renewable fuels project in Panama and to support SGP BioEnergy in their ambition to deliver renewable diesel and jet fuels for the local and global markets."

The refinery will be developed in three phases, each over a period of five years, with the goal of increasing production by 60 000 bpd over each phase. SGP BioEnergy has selected Fluor — the EPC market leader in refining — together with its Mexico-based affiliate ICA Fluor, to perform the front-end engineering study."

Airlines have pledged to use biofuels to sustain 1 million flights and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by an average of 70%. This major shift comes from global momentum for decarbonisation, including regulatory initiatives and major corporate commitments. SGP BioEnergy's management team has a proven track record of securing contracts with leading airlines that are committed to decarbonising their operations and providing their customers with lower-carbon travel options at a price competitive with conventional jet fuel.

To finance the project, SGP BioEnergy partnered with Goldman Sachs to identify investors that shared the company's vision for a better energy mix that includes renewable biofuel. The country of Panama was an ideal partner to support the financial potential of the project given its free zones, commitment to clean energy innovation and global platform to transport the fuels to over 1000 ports around the world.

"Panama's Energy Transition Agenda is creating transformational opportunities which are positioning us as an innovative country who will deliver Clean Fuels to bypass the fossil fuel era," said Dr. Jorge Rivera Staff, National Energy Secretary of Panama. "Today, Panama is expanding its role as a Regional Energy Hub while also supporting local agriculture."

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