Japanese biotech startup Euglena is studying the feasibility of building and operating a biofuel refinery in Malaysia with local state-run oil company Petronas and Italian energy multinational Eni amid the growing interest in curbing carbon emissions.
The refinery would produce sustainable aviation fuel and biodiesel fuel using waste oil and other materials. The partners also want eventually to tap microorganisms including euglena, which the Japanese company grows, and other forms of biomass.
The plant would be built in one of Southeast Asia’s largest petrochemical developments—the Pengerang Integrated Complex, owned by Petronas, known formally as Petroliam Nasional. The partners envision output of up to 730,000 kiloliters a year.
The investment decision is expected in 2023, with the refinery’s completion planned for 2025. Euglena intends to acquire 30% of the USD 1 billion project, which calls for creation of a special-purpose company for construction and operation.
The Japanese company supplies biofuels derived from euglena and other ingredients for use domestically in buses and small aircraft. Such fuels are produced at a small pilot plant in Yokohama, opened in 2019, with an annual output of 125 kl.
Japanese businesses are jumping on the bandwagon for sustainable aviation fuel. Petroleum company Idemitsu Kosan aims to manufacture ethanol-derived aviation fuel in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo as soon as fiscal 2026. Trading house Mitsubishi Corp. and energy behemoth Eneos Holdings eye a framework for supplying hundreds of thousands of kiloliters of sustainable aviation fuel yearly in Japan as early as 2027.