Growing interest in renewable diesel

Growing interest in renewable diesel

Carnarvon Energy Chief Financial Officer Thomson Naude attended last month’s APPEA Conference in Brisbane, where there was growing interest in the company’s renewable fuels business, Future Energy Australia (FEA).

The energy transition was a hot topic of conversation this year at the conference and people were keen to know more about what Carnarvon is doing in this space through FEA, which is looking to build Australia’s first commercial-scale renewable diesel production facility.

“People wanted to know a lot more about FEA, including representatives from other oil companies as well as a number of investment banks,” Thomson explains.

“Particularly because what we are doing is different, we’re not doing carbon capture and storage, or hydrogen, like a number of our peers, so in that respect we are a bit unique.”

FEA’s proposed facility in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region will produce about 18 million litres of renewable diesel per annum from sustainably sourced woody biomass in the Shire of Narrogin.

FEA’s overall vision is to have the 500 million litres per year of renewable diesel production capacity by 2030, with several suitable sites for future facilities already identified.

While the energy transition was a key talking point, Thomson also notes there was a lot of focus at this year’s conference on energy security amid surging prices and growing global geopolitical tensions.

“You can definitely feel tension building over global energy security and Australia has a massive role to play, particularly in gas,” says Thomson.

Australia is a major supplier of energy to world markets, exporting more than three-quarters of its energy output.

While Australia has benefited from its vast gas reserves, both domestically and in the export market, Thomson notes there is still an energy security risk for Australia when it comes to its liquids production.

“Where Australia’s domestic risk lies is in liquids, with the nation only producing about 30% of its requirements,” he says.

“That’s where what we are doing in the Bedout can play a significant role in boosting Australia’s domestic energy security through the significant oil discoveries we have already made at Dorado and Pavo. 

“We have more than 100 additional exploration targets in our Bedout basin portfolio, which could have the potential to further bolster Australia’s energy security.”

Carnarvon’s play opening discoveries in the Bedout, combined with its substantial footprint in the emerging basin, has continued to pique the interest of potential partners.

On the first day of the APPEA Conference, Thomson presented at the PESA Deal Day, highlighting the potential opportunity for interested investors in Carnarvon’s interests in the Bedout.

“We received a lot of interest following the PESA presentation about our Bedout assets, particularly in the Dorado divestment process,” Thomson explains.

“The presentation got us in front of a number of interested parties, including some international players that we had previously been unaware were looking to add Australian assets to their portfolios.”

Overall, Thomson summed up the mood at this year’s APPEA’s conference as upbeat following several challenging years for the industry in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There was a really positive vibe at the conference this year, which is something I hadn’t seen for a while.”