Italian multinational oil and gas company Eni, has started production of the first vegetable oil for bio-refineries in Kenya.
Through its subsidiary Eni Kenya, the company set up an oilseed collection and pressing plant (agri-hub) in Makueni early this year.
The first agri-hub will have an installed capacity of 15,000 tons with an anticipated production of 2,500 tons in 2022.
"This project embodies all the pillars of Eni's approach to sustainability. First, the carbon neutrality, as bio- refining is an important element in our path to zero emissions by 2050," Eni chief executive officer Claudio Descalzi said in a statement on Monday.
"Second, the operational excellence, as we completed the work on schedule, one year after the agreement with the Kenyan government and six months after the shipyard’s start-up, in total safety, with more than 200,000 hours worked without any accidents."
Descalzi said the firm has so far involved 25,000 farmers and employed up to 200 people a day in the construction of the center.
The agri-hub will process castor, croton and cottonseeds to extract vegetable oil.
The vegetable oil is therefore non-edible its intended use is for biofuel production this including hydrotreated vegetable oil (biodiesel) and sustainable aviation fuel (biojet).
In order to contribute to the country's decarbonisation process, in December, 2020 President Uhuru Kenyatta and the CEO of Eni Claudio Descalzi discussed initiatives of circular economy, including the recovery, regeneration and reuse of agricultural and food waste produced in the country.
Specifically, the parties identified strategic lines to implement a multi-year plan to incentivize separate collection of waste and agricultural residues, which are the ideal raw material for biofuel plants, leveraging the circular economy technologies developed by Eni.
Eni plans several development programmes in Kenya including the construction of 20 agri ,hubs with start-up in 2022
The plan also includes the study for the conversion of the Mombasa refinery into a biorefineryfor HVO and Biojet production.
In July 2021 Eni and the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote the decarbonization process to tackle climate change through new industrial models of fully-integrated circular economy along the whole bio-fuel production value chain.
The parties will jointly conduct feasibility studies to develop waste and residue collection as well as agricultural projects, with the purpose of establishing a wide range of feedstock sources that do not compete with food cycles, to be transformed intobio-fuels and bio-products that might contribute to feed Eni’s bio-refineries in Gela and Venice, Italy.
The parties agreed to also assess the opportunity to build a new plant to produce second-generation bio-ethanol from waste biomass, leveraging Eni technologies.
The agricultural development project focuses on the development of sustainable oil crop cultivations and other agro-industrial co-products.
The waste and residue collection project will be focused on the promotione and implementation a collection system for used cooked oil(UCO) and of other agro-processing residues.
Eni's agri-feedstock raw materials come from crops that are resistant to aridity and suitable for growing on degraded soils hence do not compete with the food supply chain.
The raw materials are from castor crops, seeds harvested from spontaneous plants (croton), and co-products of the cotton supply chain in a circular economy perspective.
The facility will also produce feed and bio-fertilizers derived from the protein component of the seeds for the benefit of livestock and food production, contributing to food security.
The center will also work as a training and technical support hub for farmers.
Eni has been present in Kenya since 2013 with offshore Oil & Gas exploration activities in the Lamu Basin, and with industrial models of fully-integrated circular economy along the bio-fuel production value chain.
Its supply chain and all agri-feedstocks developed have been certified under the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification sustainability scheme, one of the main voluntary standard recognized by the European commission for biofuel certification.
Eni is the first company in the world to certify castor and croton for biofuel use under the ISCC-EU scheme and has also enabled an African cotton mill to achieve such certification standard for the first time, offering new market opportunities to local farmers for the fiber.
Eni Kenya, in partnership with ISCC within a Horizon 2020 project, has also taken steps to obtain Low ILUC (low risk of direct and indirect land use change) certification in the next few months.
The first phase of the project in Kenya includes the construction of a second agri-hub to reach a total capacity of 30,000 tons per year of vegetable oil in 2023, as well as the development of associated agricultural supply chains.
The startup of the production in Kenya represents the first step in Eni's agro-industrial chain initiatives. Over the past year, agreements have been signed in several countries including Congo, Mozambique, Angola, Ivory Coast, Benin, Kazakhstan and Rwanda.
In these countries, as well as in Italy, feasibility studies have been launched in the most mature realities aiming at carrying out a first phase of agricultural activities starting in 2022 and then proceeding with the construction of seeds pressing plants for bio-refining.