News | May 29, 2023

Using Petrobras Technology, The Riograndense Refinery Is Set To Become The First Biorefinery In Brazil To Process 100% Renewable Raw Materials

The Refinery in Rio Grande do Sul will be the first to test the use of the biorefining technology. Petrobras are investing R$ 45M

The Riograndense Oil Refinery (RPR), located in the city of Rio Grande (RS), is about to start testing the processing of petrochemical products and fuels from completely renewable materials. This technology represents a new frontier for biorefining in the country.

The cooperation agreement will be signed on Monday (May 29), in Rio Grande, in the presence of executives from RPR itself and the refinery’s parent companies (Petrobras, Braskem and Ultra). The first processing tests are scheduled for next November and will last up to five days. The next will be held in June 2024. If they prove successful then the licensing contract for the Petrobras technology is already in place. Petrobras are due to invest around R$ 45M in the RPR.

For Jean Paul Prates, the President of Petrobras, the tests at RPR show that the company is committed to the energy transition: “Petrobras is pioneering this development of technology which will be able to open up opportunities for biorefining in Brazil. We are progressing and pursuing the decarbonization of our processes, together with our partners at the Riograndense Oil Refinery and producing products that are renewable is more sustainable and efficient for society”.

Technology based on Petrobras’s DNA
RPR's FCC (fluid catalytic cracking) unit is being adapted for the first test using technology developed by Petrobras’s Research and Development Center. The developments in the process and catalytic system will mean that it can produce inputs that are completely renewable.

The subsequent test will involve co-processing fossil fuel with bio-oil to produce propylene, gasoline and diesel, all with renewable content from advanced raw materials produced from non-comestible biomass.

Riograndense Oil Refinery
The history of oil refining in Brazil began in the city of Rio Grande (RS). The Riograndense Oil Refinery, which began working in 1937, is now owned by Petrobras, Braskem and Ultrapar.

The company’s main operations are currently the processing and sale of petroleum derivatives, particularly gasoline, diesel oil, petrochemical naphtha, fuel oil, LPG (domestic gas) and other products. Its market is concentrated in the south of Brazil, particularly the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The refinery has an installed processing capacity of 17 thousand barrels a day.

If the tests are successful, RPR will be adapted to produce, primarily, bioaromatics for the petrochemical industry. This will be a milestone for biorefining development in Brazil. RPR would be the first refinery in Latin America to be converted to operate as a biorefinery. if this initiative is successful, and it would process material from entirely renewable sources.

The outlook is good in the view of Felipe Jorge, the Director-Superintendent of RPR: “We are taking an important step towards the future of our pioneering refinery. This investment in producing renewables will help to open up a highly promising market for the RPR”, he explained.

According to Roberto Bischoff, the CEO of Braskem, “the company is committed to help construct a carbon-neutral circular economy. In terms of the energy transition, we share the Riograndense Refinery's vision, which is to develop new products from renewable sources to meet the demands of the market and society itself”.

Meanwhile, Marcelo Araújo, the Executive Director of Corporate and Share Interests at Ultrapar, stated: “The Riograndense Refinery was the first refinery in Brazil. This step is part of the evolution of the potential of bio manufacturing in this country. It is vital that we have the public policies to unlock these development opportunities and bring security and encouragement for further investment. We are supporting this initiative and the developments that will position the Riograndense Refinery as an example for Brazilian biorefining”.

Source: Petrobras