OMV Petrom
Christina Verchere, CEO OMV Petrom (Credit: OMV Petrom)

Romania’s OMV Petrom to transform refinery into SE Europe’s first major biofuel producer

Petrobrazi refinery in Prahova county set to benefit from €750 million investment and modernization program

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Bucharest-listed OMV Petrom, Romania’s top oil and gas group, is set to allocate €750 million investment at Petrobrazi refinery to transform it into the first major producer of sustainable fuels in Southeast Europe. The refinery, one of the largest Romanian refineries and one of the largest in Eastern Europe, located in Prahova County, currently supplies about 30% of Romania’s fuel needs and will continue to play an essential role for the transport sector.

The company has made the final investment decision to build a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel (HVO) facility along with two facilities for green hydrogen which will be used in the production of biofuels. Renewable diesel, green diesel, or biodiesel, (also know an hydrotreated vegetable oil, is a low-carbon fuel, produced by processing renewable residual lipids.

“We are moving forward with our transformation, in addition to our new renewable power projects, today we have taken a decisive step towards decarbonizing transport in Romania. In total, by 2030, we’re committing EUR 11 billion to transform the company for a lower carbon future, both in Romania and the region” Christina Verchere, CEO OMV Petrom said in a statement.

On his part, Radu Căprău, OMV Petrom Executive Board Member responsible for Refining and Marketing, commented: “Together with electro-mobility, biofuels are the answer to low carbon transport, and we expect a gradual increase in demand for these products. Thanks to the investments we announced today, we will be able to replace imports with biofuels produced here in Romania.”

Petrobrazi (Credit: OMV Petrom)

The investments for the SAF/HVO facility amount to EUR 560 million.  The plant will have a production capacity of 250 kt/year, of SAF and HVO as well as by-products like bio-naphtha and bio-LPG, which are used in the chemical industry. The high flexibility of the installation allows adjusting the products mix according to market demand and the available feedstock mix. The plant will have an annual consumption of ~11 kt of hydrogen, most of which will be provided by the two new green hydrogen production units. The investment for the two green hydrogen units is estimated at ~EUR 190 mn, of which up to EUR 50 mn is from European funds, through the National Plan for Recovery and Resilience (NPRR), the company said.

OMV Petrom and the Ministry of Energy signed the financing contracts at the beginning of this year.
The two units will have a total capacity of 55 MW, with a total annual production of green hydrogen estimated at around 8 kt. Integrating green hydrogen into sustainable fuels, such as sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel, will result in at least a 70% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to conventional fuels.

Petrobrazi is the first refinery in the country certified to produce SAF and HVO through the co-processing of biological raw materials. Between 2005 and 2022, OMV Petrom invested over €2bn in the Petrobrazi refinery. In 2023, a project worth €70 million to replace the coker units of the refinery was completed.

In order to ensure access to a safe source of raw materials to produce biofuels, OMV Petrom has acquired a 50% stake in “Respiră Verde”, a leader in the collection of used cooking oil in Romania. “Respiră Verde” collects up to 10 kt of used edible oil per year from economic agents in fields such as the hospitality industry (hotels, restaurants) and retail.

Petrobrazi
Petrobrazi (Credit: OMV Petrom)

OMV Petrom also supports social projects with a positive impact on the communities in Prahova, in the fields of health, education and environment, such as the modernisation of the Emergency County Hospital in Ploiești, the renovation and energy efficiency of schools – Efficient Romania, and afforestation – Romania plants for Tomorrow. Over the past three years, the value of these projects has exceeded 10 million euros.

With an annual Group hydrocarbon production of approximately 41 million boe in 2023,  OMV Petrom is the largest integrated energy producer in Southeastern Europe. It has a refining capacity of 4.5 million tons annually and operates an 860 MW high-efficiency gas-fired power plant. The Group is present on the oil products retail market in Romania and neighbouring countries through approximately 780 filling stations under two brands – OMV and Petrom.

OMV Aktiengesellschaft, one of the largest listed industrial companies in Austria, holds a 51.2% stake in OMV Petrom. Romanian shareholders hold over 43% of the shares (of which the Romanian state, through the Ministry of Energy, holds 20.7%, and 22.5% are owned by pension funds in Romania, to which are added almost 500,000 individual investors and other Romanian entities). The remaining 5.6% are held by other foreign investors. Of the total shares of OMV Petrom, 28.1% represents the free float on the Bucharest Stock Exchange.