September 28, 2023
JAKARTA – Pertamina subsidiary PGN and three Japanese companies are looking to produce biomethane from palm oil mill effluent (POME) to meet rising natural gas demand and reduce methane emissions.
The consortium of PGN, JGC Holdings Corporation, Osaka Gas and Inpex Corporation is currently working on a study for the commercialization of such a product in Indonesia in 2025, using PGN’s natural gas distribution network.
The raw material is to come from oil palm plantations in South Sumatra.
The project aims to recover methane gas released into the atmosphere from POME, refine it into biomethane and supply it to customers via natural gas pipelines and other existing infrastructure.
Untreated POME releases methane, which is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, according to the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency.
“The biomethane produced from this project is not only expected to meet industrial gas and consumer demand but also to serve as proof that Pertamina Group and its partners, in this case, JGC, Inpex and Osaka Gas, are committed to encouraging renewable energy development,” Harry Budi Sidharta, PGN director of strategy and business development, said in a statement on Monday.
The biomethane produced from the project is expected to expand Pertamina’s natural gas business.
Read also: No gas price hike in sight, vows SKK Migas
Furthermore, the biofuel-led decarbonization effort by the consortium is expected to scale up the biomethane operations to supply bio-liquefied natural gas (LNG) from biomethane as bunker fuel. This in turn will also be considered for export to Japan and other markets.
The project was first introduced at the Asia Zero Emission Community (AZEC) Ministerial Meeting in March 2023 as an initiative contributing to carbon neutrality in Asia.
The processes of palm oil extraction and purification generates a large amount of wastewater known as POME. For every tonne of crude palm oil produced, 2.5 to 3 cubic meters of POME is produced, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights.
The world’s largest palm oil exporter, Indonesia produced 46.72 million tonnes of crude palm oil in 2022, Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki) data show.
The country used about 8.84 million tonnes of the figure to produce biodiesel for use in road fuels domestically, the association said in its annual report published earlier this year.
The use of palm oil for making biodiesel is expected to rise in 2023 after the government raised the national ratio of biodiesel to gasoil mix to 35 percent from 30 percent in February.
Indonesia has an emissions-reduction target of 377 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2035.