Push is on for jobs: 'Operational readiness' next step for pilot plant

The pilot plant at Yarwun is in the process of being commissioned.
The pilot plant at Yarwun is in the process of being commissioned. Chris Lees

THE Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant is getting closer to officially starting production.

Southern Oil managing director Tim Rose said they had begun to "hot commission" a lot of the equipment.

"We've got most of the things in place at the moment," he said.

"There's two other pieces of equipment that are coming from overseas."

One is expected to arrive in about four months and the last one in about eight months.

The pilot plant was officially opened by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in June.

Mr Rose said they were in the process of getting the pilot plant to "operational readiness".

"As part of our environmental licence, we have some conditions on us in terms of how we process the various waste that comes through," he said.

"Before we turn the plant on fully and start putting various wastes through it we've got to make sure we can meet those licence conditions."

The pilot plant has been designed to turn waste such as sugar cane and macadamia husks into bio-diesel and could fuel US Navy ships.

Mr Rose said the first lot of product would go through the refinery in the next three to four weeks.

"So the idea is once we're all set-up to go, is to put each of the different feedstocks through each of the different technologies to find out which one works best for each thing," he said.

Once Southern Oils knows what works best, the idea is to go back to producers of the different types of waste, and place the technology there.

The crude will be made there and will come back to Gladstone to be refined.

Besides the pilot plant there is also an oil refinery on site which is currently operating.

"That's taking in waste lubricating oil but when we start producing crude from the pilot plant it will start producing that," he said.

"But if we're successful with the pilot scales and being able to prove up an economic case for all the waste out there, then we will have to greatly expand the refinery at Gladstone."

Mr Rose said it was possible that it could be increased "10-fold" in size. Previously Mr Rose has previously said if that happened jobs would at least double.

Topics:  Annastacia Palaszczuk northern oil advanced biofuels pilot plant operational readiness

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