Tesoro plans biocrude co-development, processing at existing refineries

Tesoro Corp., San Antonio, is launching a program with several renewable energy companies to advance biomass-to-fuels technology for development of biocrude feedstock that the independent refiner-marketer plans to co-process alongside traditional crude at its US refineries.

To be made using technologies that convert renewable biomass into a refinery-compatible feedstock that could be blended in with standard crude volumes, the biocrude will enable Tesoro’s existing refining assets to produce less carbon-intensive fuels compatible with existing fuel infrastructure and current vehicle fleet warranties at lower capital and operating costs compared with competing technologies, the company said.

In addition to supporting lower compliance costs with the federal renewable fuel standard and California’s low-carbon fuel standard by generating credits, biocrude processing would allow the company to help meet demand for low-carbon, advanced biofuels at competitive prices, according to CJ Warner, Tesoro’s executive vice-president of strategy and business development.

While it did not disclose a definitive timeframe for the project’s implementation, Tesoro did confirm it already has formed the following collaborative relationships for the requisite biomass-to-fuels technologies:

• Fulcrum BioEnergy Inc., Pleasanton, Calif., which will supply 800 b/d of biocrude feedstock to Tesoro Refining & Marketing Co. LLC’s (TRMC) 161,500-b/d Golden Eagle refinery in Martinez, Calif. Biocrude production will come from municipal solid waste processed at Fulcrum Sierra Biofuels LLC’s proposed biofuels plant in Storey County, Nevada, about 20 miles east of Reno, which is due to enter commercial operation in early 2018.

• Virent Inc., Madison, Wis., with which Tesoro is working to develop and commercialize Virent’s BioForming technology that can convert plant-based sugars into hydrocarbon products identical to those made from petroleum, including,  gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and chemicals for plastics and fibers.

• Ensyn Corp., Wilmington, Del., which already has applied with the California Air Resources Board for a pathway to co-process its proprietary Renewable Fuel Oil—a biocrude produced from tree residue—in TRMC’s California refineries, include Golden Eagle and the 363,850-b/d Los Angeles refining complex.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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