Indonesia's Pertamina conducts trials on 100% palm oil biodiesel and jet fuel

JAKARTA, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Indonesia’s state energy company PT Pertamina said on Friday it had started trials on diesel made entirely out of palm oil at its Cilacap refinery on Java island after conducting trials on jet fuel late last year.

Pertamina begun the trials of the so-called “Green Diesel” on Jan. 9 and they will continue till Jan. 16, a Pertamina spokesman said in the statement. Trials for the jet fuel took place at the end of December.

“This trial will continue until it is ready and safe to use as fuel that can be used by the community,” spokesman Hatim Ilwan said.

Indonesia, the world’s largest palm oil producer, currently has a mandatory biodiesel programme with 30% palm oil content known as B30, but the government is keen to expand the use of the vegetable oil for energy as it aims to slash fuel imports.

But a slump in fuel prices this year has made the programme less economical and plans to increase the biocontent to 40% have been delayed due to funding issues.

While the B30 programme uses fatty acid methyl ester, known as FAME, the Green Diesel uses refined, bleached and deodorized palm oil (RBDPO), which is palm oil that has been refined to remove free fatty acids and purification to remove color and odour, Hatim said.

“The Green Jet Fuel meanwhile, uses refined, bleached and deodorized palm kernel oil (RBDPKO) or palm kernel oil,” he said, noting that the product is not yet able to be used commercially.

The biodiesel refinery at Cilacap is expected to produce as much as 3,000 barrels of biodiesel made out of 100% palm a day.

While biodiesel promises significantly lower carbon emissions, the land clearance taking place to grow palm oil has raised concerns among environmentalists about deforestation. (Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by Fathin Ungku Editing by Ed Davies)