Exxon, Chevron look to make renewable fuels without costly refinery upgrades


U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil Corp along with Chevron Corp is seeking to bulk up in the burgeoning renewable fuels space by finding ways to make such products at existing facilities, sources familiar with the efforts said. The two largest U.S. oil companies want to produce sustainable fuels without spending billions of dollars that some refineries are spending to reconfigure operations to make such products. Renewable fuels account for 5% of U.S. fuel consumption, but are poised to grow as various sectors adapt to cut overall carbon emissions to combat global climate change. To learn more, read, “Exxon, Chevron look to make renewable fuels without costly refinery upgrades.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Oil companies are looking into how to process bio-based feedstocks like vegetable oils and partially processed biofuels with petroleum distillates to make renewable diesel, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable gasoline, without meaningfully increasing capital spending.
  • A task force was created at Exxon’s request within international standards and testing organization ASTM International to determine the capability of refiners to co-process up to 50% of certain types of bio-feedstocks to produce SAF, according to the sources.
  • Exxon says it will repurpose its existing refinery units among other strategies to produce biofuels. It aims at more than 40,000 barrels per day of low-emission fuels at a competitive cost by 2025.
  • Chevron is looking into how to run those feedstocks through their fluid catalytic crackers (FCC), gasoline-producing units that are generally the largest component of refining facilities.
  • The company is partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop a path to produce fuel that would qualify for emissions credits.
  • Congress is considering legislation for tax credits that would further spur refiners to process sustainable aviation fuel commercially.

Path to 100% Perspective:

As coal, diesel and legacy natural gas plants are retired to achieve ambitious decarbonization goals, the need for new dispatchable capacity is necessary for reliability and resiliency in future power systems. Oil companies have seen the critical need to pivot to remain viable and develop their own decarbonization strategies. Power systems of the future will require both short-duration and long-duration energy storage options. Oil companies can help generate future fuels or renewable fuels, such as hydrogen, ammonia and carbon neutral methanol.