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IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

IEAGHG’s 55th Executive Committee Meeting: site visit to Neste’s refinery in Porvoo, Finland

IEAGHG's 55th Executive Committee (ExCo) Meeting took place last week in Helsinki, Finland. After two days of fruitful discussions and excellent Finnish hospitality, attendees were able to visit Neste's Porvoo refinery, which is located in the Kilpilahti industrial area. 

The crude oil refining capacity in Porvoo is approximately 10.5 Mt/a (equating to about 206 kbbl/day). The refinery can also process other feedstocks, bringing its total capacity to 13.5 Mt/a. Neste also has refineries in Naantali (Finland), Rotterdam and Singapore, with the ones in Singapore and Porvoo being equipped with CO2 capture units. The total capacity of renewable diesel among the refineries in Porvoo, Rotterdam and Singapore is 2.7 Mt/a.


Said CO2 capture unit was the first and main stop during our visit. We learned that the capture plant, which is operated by AGA (a member of the Linde Group) is closely integrated with the rest of the refinery. The CO2 capture process uses a PSA (pressure swing adsorption) and an additional distillation step ensures the required CO2 purity can be met, with the majority of the CO2 being sold as food-grade CO2 to other industries, being delivered by truck.


Next on the list was a tour of the whole refinery area, and we could have a peek at the hydrogen production units, petrochemical plants and ultimately the on-site CO2 storage cylinders, where a truck had just arrived to fill up with liquid CO2 for the next delivery.


Finally, we were invited to a lunch and accompanying presentations that contained more details about Neste's sustainability efforts and AGA's activities. It is Neste's aim to significantly reduce their CO2 emissions and the 2018 emissions have been reduced by 30% (compared to 2015-2016). In 2018, Neste's renewable fuels, especially their MY Renewable Diesel™, helped reduce carbon emissions by 7.9 Mt. MY Renewable Diesel™ can lower GHG emissions by 50-90% compared to conventional diesel, and this reduction effect depends on the feedstock used and is at the higher end for waste and residues, which account for about 83% of renewable raw materials used, and at the lower end for vegetable oils.

Overall, it was very interesting to see and learn about Neste’s activities in the areas of biofuel production and CO2 capture. One of our ongoing projects at IEAGHG will investigate the CO2 reduction/mitigation potential and the techno-economics of biorefineries with CCS, so this site visit was very welcome for setting the scene. Thank you very much to Neste and AGA for having us there and showing us first-hand how the transition from fossil to low-carbon fuels can look like.
Ralph Keeling at the Oxford Climate Society
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