Repsol Chairman Antonio Brufau attended the presentation on March 7 of the start of construction of Spain’s first advanced biofuels plant at the company’s Cartagena refinery. At the event, he was accompanied by the Director of the Industrial Complex, Antonio Mestre, and by the President of the Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia, Fernando López Miras, and the Delegate of the National Government of the Region of Murcia, José Vélez , the Mayoress of Cartagena, Noelia Arroyo, and other representatives of regional and local authorities and businesses. After learning the details of the project, they went to the refinery to see the area where the hydrotreating plant will be installed.
Repsol, in line with its goal of becoming a net-zero emissions company by 2050, will invest 200 million euros in this project, which will allow the delivery of 250,000 tons per year of advanced biofuels such as biodiesel, biojet, bionaphtha and biopropane in Airplanes, trucks or cars can be used without requiring modifications to the existing engines. These eco-fuels are made from waste and help save 900,000 tons of CO through their use2 per year.
The President of Repsol assured that “With this project, Cartagena will consolidate itself as a supply center for essential products for the present and future and as an example of Repsol’s commitment to sustainable mobility.” Antonio Brufau stressed the importance of committing to technology neutrality in order to move towards the goal of zero net emissions by 2050. He called on public administrations to create “an enabling, facilitating, flexible and non-exclusive regulation” that would allow the development of future projects, because only in this way “we protect our economy, industry and employment”.
For his part, Regional Government President Fernando López Miras said: “Repsol represents a commitment to progress, development and sustainability. Cartagena and Repsol have grown hand in hand, to an extent that cannot be understood Escombreras’ evolution and its transformation into a global energy hub without Repsol. And now we add good news about the construction of the first advanced biofuels plant in Spain, a state-of-the-art facility that is a great example of the so-called circular economy. “
The delegate of the national government in the Region of Murcia, José Vélez, pointed out that “with the construction of this first advanced biofuel plant, Repsol will once again be one of the largest companies in the region, channeling quality jobs and strong investments, bringing the region to the to be at the forefront of technological development.”
The Mayor of Cartagena, Noelia Arroyo, believes that “what begins today is another major industrial commitment by Repsol to Cartagena, for the investment it represents, for the jobs it creates and for the activity which will bring it to the Escombreras Valley.” In addition, she stressed that “it illustrates the industrial application of the most avant-garde research into the production of fuels through recycling”.
Regarding the project, the director of Repsol’s refinery in Cartagena, Antonio Mestre, stressed that the new plant is “a tangible example of the circular economy that will allow us to offer sustainable mobility solutions for all sectors of society and it is a very important step in the transformation of the industrial complex into a multi-energy hub.”
Circular economy, a strategic pillar for the decarbonization of transport
Repsol has been integrating biofuels into its vehicle fuels for more than two decades. Now the company is taking it a step further and will use the circular economy to produce advanced biofuels from various types of waste from the agri-food industry and others, such as e.g. B. used cooking oils produce. In this way, Repsol will give a second life to waste that would otherwise end up in landfill, transforming it into products with high added value.
These advanced biofuels are a sustainable solution for all segments of mobility, especially for those who have no other alternative to decarbonize their activity, such as B. Sea, long-distance or air transport. You can reduce the net CO2 -Emissions by 65 to 85 percent compared to the conventional fuels they replace.
Repsol relies on the circular economy as one of its strategic pillars to manufacture products with a low, zero or even negative carbon footprint. Repsol’s goal is to turn three million tons of waste per year into 2 million tons of low-carbon fuels by 2030, saving more than seven million tons of CO2 per year.
Progress in construction work
The project will be developed in four different areas covering an area of 41,500 m2. Three of these are located within the refinery and correspond to the hydrotreating unit, the hydrogen production unit and the biofuel storage tanks area. The fourth area will be located at the Cartagena Port Authority facilities, where Repsol operates. This area will be equipped with the necessary infrastructure to store 300,000 tons of different types of waste arriving by sea and then supply it to domestic or export markets.
Having previously dismantled the decommissioned facilities within the refinery to accommodate the new units – including the removal of 53,000m3 of land – work is currently focused on civil works. Concretely, the construction of the tanks in which the advanced biofuels will be stored has already begun. In the areas where the hydrotreating and hydrogen plants will be located, construction work is already underway related to the installation of concrete structures and placement of cradle for the pipelines through which the feedstock and advanced biofuels will be transported.
240 auxiliary companies and 1,000 people will be involved in the construction work
The expansion of the facilities at the Cartagena refinery to allow the construction of the new advanced biofuel plant, equipped with the latest technology, will create around 1,000 jobs in the different phases of the project and the involvement of 240 auxiliary companies, 21 percent of which will be local , 25 percent will be regional, 42 percent national and 12 percent international.
More than 25 contractors and around 300 people are currently working in the refinery. This number will increase to an average of 600 employees, with the peak being reached next autumn with around 800 direct and indirect employees.
Since the start of the project, Repsol has spent more than 72 million euros on the preparatory technical work, commissioning of the company’s equipment and support staff.
The Cartagena refinery, a benchmark in Europe
The Cartagena refinery is one of the main economic drivers and job generators in the Murcia region. Almost 900 highly qualified people work in the industrial complex in highly specialized positions. In addition to direct employment, the refinery regularly creates around 400 jobs through contractors, with this number increasing to 2,000 on a project basis.
Repsol has invested more than 456 million euros in the Cartagena industrial complex over the past ten years. To this amount must be added the project to expand the refinery, inaugurated in 2012 by His Majesty King Felipe VI, then Crown Prince, representing the largest industrial investment in Spain, with a value of 3.2 billion euros, and the industrial complex to the Forefront of technology brought leaders in its industry. Today, the Cartagena refinery is an industrial scale facility and one of the most efficient in Europe.
The Cartagena industrial plant is currently undergoing a transformation that will involve an evolution of its processes into a multi-energy center capable of producing a variety of products with a low, zero or even negative carbon footprint. To do this, Repsol will use all available technologies such as renewable hydrogen, circular economy and CO2 Capture and use, and will rely on additional tools including digitization and energy efficiency. In 2021 alone, Repsol invested 31 million euros in projects to improve the energy efficiency of its facilities in Cartagena, during maintenance work on the lubrication units and the last scheduled shutdown in the areas of conversion and hydrotreating.
Repsol, accelerating the energy transition
With a new directive, the EU institutions have already outlined a roadmap that stipulates that the share of renewable energies in final energy consumption in the transport sector must be at least 14 percent by 2030. By then at least 3.5 percent must be advanced biofuels. Furthermore, in July 2021, the European Commission published a new legislative package proposing to increase the ambition level of CO2 Align reductions in 2030 and the goal of achieving carbon neutrality in 2050. This package, called Suitable for 55 because it promotes CO reduction2 -Emissions in the European economy to reach 55 percent by 2030 focuses on the need to accelerate the decarbonisation of the transport sector. Among others, it includes the Re-FuelEU Aviation initiative, which aims to boost supply and demand for sustainable aviation fuels in the European Union – including biofuels and advanced biofuels – and a usage of 2 percent in 2025 and 5 percent per year to be reached in 2030 and 63 percent in 2050.
For its part, the Spanish National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) sets an even more ambitious target of 28 percent renewable energy in transport by 2030. The PNIEC recognizes that biofuels are the most widespread and currently the most widespread renewable technology in transport, in particular B. in sectors such as heavy-duty vehicles, aviation and shipping, where electrification is currently not possible. In addition, the Climate Change and Energy Transition Law, passed by the Spanish Congress in May 2021, includes an article dedicated to sustainable alternative fuels in transport, with a particular focus on advanced biofuels and other fuels of non-biological origin.
Repsol fully supports the initiatives and supports the achievement of these goals with the construction of the first advanced biofuel plant in Spain and various other ongoing projects. Concretely, the multi-energy company has for the first time processed frying oil into biodiesel in its refinery in A Coruña and has produced batches of Biojet in its refineries in Puertollano, Tarragona and Bilbao, which have enabled the first flights made of biofuel, produced in Spain together with Iberia and Vueling is made from waste. With this, Repsol anticipates the regulatory framework and makes a decisive step forward in its goal of becoming a carbon-neutral company and offering sustainable fuels for hard-to-decarbonize sectors such as aviation, long-haul and maritime transport.