Pertamina Produces Biofuel 100% From Palm Oil

The promise of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to produce green diesel 100 percent (D100) from crude palm oil (CPO) has been finally realized. State-owned giant energy company PT Pertamina announced on Thursday its success in producing the refined, bleached, and deodorized palm oil used for 100 percent biofuel, or the so-called Green Diesel 100 percent (D100).

Pertamina has produced the D100 product under a partnership between its Research & Technology Center (RTC) and Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) in its Dumai refinery in Riau province at the initial capacity of 1,000 barrels per day (bpd).

The success will pave the way for President Jokowi’s ambition to switch to the green fuel as soon as next year as part of efforts to cut trade deficit caused by oil imports and increase local absorption of palm oil production, which has been increasing every year but facing growingly bigger export challenges in European market.

The D100 is a renewable energy source which has almost the same quality with the fossil-based diesel fuel. But unlike the fossil fuels that have been long blamed as the major contributor of carbon emissions, the D100 is environmentally friendly and expected to help Indonesia to meet its target of reducing carbon emissions.

Currently, Indonesia is implementing the B30 program to produce biodiesel 30 percent (B30), which is a mixture of 30 percent fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) derived from CPO and 70 percent from fossil-based diesel fuel, after being successful in producing B20 last year.

Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, together with Pertamina President Director Nicke Widyawati, made a visit to the DHDT Refinery Unit (RU) II in Dumai on Wednesday and saw the product sample of the D-100.

The industry minister said during his visit that the D100 production is in line with the direction of President Jokowi to optimize the use of bioenergy sources which are abundant in Indonesia, especially the palm oil, in order to improve the public welfare.

“I’d like to congratulate the management of Pertamina, especially those in Dumai, who had proven that we are able to produce this D100. Pertamina has accomplished a really extraordinary job. Started in 2019, the job is done very quickly. We’re working hard to increase the capability of Indonesian people and the government will always support Pertamina,” he said.

Pertamina President Director Nicke Widyawati expressed her appreciation for the government’s support to Pertamina in producing the biofuel as part of efforts to strengthen the national energy security and sovereignty.

“I’d like to thank the government and all related parties for their support to Pertamina. Now, the success of this production trial has proven to us that we are ready in terms of refinery and catalyst technology. For the next step we need to think over its economics for commercial production,” said Nicke.

Nicke said that Pertamina’s innovation in producing the green energy D100 has solved the energy problem of environment as it is very friendly to the environment, while at the same time solved the absorption problem of crude palm oil (CPO) production, which has now reached 42 – 46 million metric tons per year. Currently, the absorption of CPO for production of fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) for the mixture of biofuel is around 11.5 percent of total CPO production.

She said that at the same time, Pertamina is also in the process of developing a bio-refinery to produce the green diesel in Plaju refinery with a capacity of 20,000 barrels per day.

“This renewable energy product is the first in Indonesia. It has proven that we are capable and competent in creating innovations. We are not inferior to the world class companies,” she said.

The processing of RBDPO into D-100 in Dumai refinery can be realized with the help of a catalyst and hydrogen gas to produce the green diesel. “The catalyst is locally made by Indonesian people employed in Pertamina Research and Technology Centre, under a partnership with the Bandung Institute of Technology ITB),” said Nicke. (*)

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