USA: Shell Will Invest Nearly $1,400 In Louisiana To Produce Biofuels From Sugar Cane

In the US, The Advoate reported that Shell has submitted an application to the Louisiana State Economic Development (LED) office to restart its Convent refinery (closed in 2020), with the intention of converting it to process raw materials. renewable raw materials instead of oil, with the aim of producing biofuels for the diesel and aviation markets.

The Shell Convent refinery is located on the banks of the Mississippi River, halfway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. While it was operational, until November 2020, it had a capacity to process approximately 240,000 barrels per day of crude oil.

According to The Advocate, Shell had teased in February that it planned to convert the Convent refinery into an alternative fuels complex, although details were scant at the time. However, the company recently filed applications with LED for state tax exemptions under the Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption Program, which shed more light on potential plans for the plant. ITEP is a property tax exemption, while Quality Jobs offers rebates for creating new jobs.

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Shell plans to use a third-party patented technology called “Alcohol-to-biojet” at Convent, which would transform ethanol into sustainable low-carbon aviation fuel and renewable diesel, according to LED filings. The facility would source ethanol from sugarcane as its main feedstock, but will also be able to convert ethanol from corn into low-carbon fuels.

New equipment for the site will include reactors, heat exchangers, compressors, pumps, among others, and plans to use existing piping and utilities.

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Shell estimates construction would start in February 2025 and finish in March 2028, assuming all goes according to plan, although a Shell spokesman said a final investment decision for the site has not yet been made.

Shell’s budget for the project is nearly $1.4 billion. About US$886 million would go to labor and engineering, while another US$387 million would go to machinery and equipment. The remainder is set for construction and material costs.

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The project would create 24 new jobs with an average wage of $91,333, as well as 512 construction jobs. Seven existing jobs remained on the site after its closure in 2020.

After failing to find a buyer for the site, Shell closed the Convent facility in 2020, resulting in hundreds of redundancies and transfers to other sites. The closure was part of the company’s broader transition from fossil fuels to low-carbon fuels.

At a state Board of Trade and Industry meeting in February, a Shell executive said Convent would be a “hub for our low-carbon fuel production of the future.”

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