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July 15, 2014

Volume 7 Issue 3

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Elevance Plans Malaysian Biorefinery

Elevance Renewable Sciences announced plans for a biorefinery in Sabah, Malaysia, in collaboration with Genting Plantations Berhad.

With 25 percent ownership, the Woodbridge, Illinois, United States-based natural oils company has agreed to license its proprietary olefin metathesis technology to Genting, to produce 240,000 metric tons per year of specialty chemical products such as lubricants, surfactants and detergents. Elevance will also provide intellectual property rights, knowledge transfer, and technical and consulting services.

Elevance will market and sell all specialty chemicals made at the plant. Like its other biorefinery in Southeast Asia, a joint venture with Singapore-based Wilmar International Ltd., in Gresik, Indonesia, the plant will produce refined products using palm oil as feedstock.

“Genting Integrated Biorefinery will spearhead our group’s expansion into the high value-added palm oil downstream segment that will showcase palm oil’s immense potential to serve an ever-increasing variety of applications and further complement the many pioneering initiatives we are pursuing in our ongoing drive to unlock palm oil’s full potential through scientific innovation,” said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, CEO of Genting Plantations Berhad.

The biorefinery will be built on Borneo island, in the Sabah state’s Lahad Datu township, at the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster, a complex that hosts several private and government-owned companies using palm oil in downstream production chains. 

“The collaboration extends Elevance's ability to supply an addressable market that exceeds $100 billion,” Andy Shafer, Elevance’s executive vice president of sales and market development, told Lube Report Asia. “Our plans have always included multiple biorefineries and the Sabah, Malaysia, location fits with Asia's access to raw materials and high growth markets. Large global customers require multiple sources of product to ensure security of supply and this collaboration will be an additional point of differentiation, making the conversion to our products even more attractive as they adopt our specialty solutions.” 

Elevance’s metathesis catalysis technology is a low-pressure, low-temperature process that breaks down natural oils and recombines the fragments to produce personal care products, detergents and cleaners, engineering polymers, lubricants, additives, and other novelty specialty chemical products. Elevance claims the process reduces greenhouse gases by 50 percent compared to typical petroleum-based refineries and results in less source pollution and production costs.

Genting Plantations, which will own 75 percent of the biorefinery, began its plantation operations in Malaysia in 1980. The Malaysia-based company, owned by Genting Berhad, owns about 66,000 hectares in Malaysia and around 180,000 hectares in Indonesia, through joint ventures, along with seven oil mills in Malaysia and two in Indonesia. The company also has property development and plantation businesses.