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Omani startup plans $630m worth green aviation fuel projects

Having successfully established Oman’s first commercial-scale biodiesel plant utilizing used cooking oil (UCO) as feedstock, Omani startup Wakud is now embarking on the development of two major bio-refineries for the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Total investment in the proposed projects, planned to be established at Sohar Port and Salalah Port, is estimated at $630 million.


An overview of the projects was presented by Wakud CEO and Co-founder Maher Mohammed al Habsi and John Jones, Co-founder of X2E, an Oman-based environmental services start-up which recently acquired a majority stake in Wakud. The presentations came on the second day of the ‘Forum on Sustainable & Low Carbon Aviation Fuel and Clean Energies in the Civil Aviation Sector’, which was organised by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of the Sultanate of Oman last week.


In his presentation, Jones of X2E revealed that the first of the two projects is planned to come into production at the Port of Sohar in 2026 with an annual capacity of 250 million litres of SAF. Also envisaged is 125 million litres per year of e-SAF production at the same facility.


Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is a biofuel with an 80 – 90 per cent lower carbon footprint than conventional jet fuel. Feedstock for SAF production can range from organic waste, oils, greases and fats, plant biomass, and other non-petroleum based renewable resources. However, with such feedstocks barely enough to cover even a small percentage of global SAF demand, energy companies are looking to supplement their production with e-SAF – a synthetic fuel produced from a combination of captured CO2 and hydrogen.


A similar facility, planned at the Port of Salalah in the south of the country, is due to come into operation in 2027. It will boast an annual capacity of 200 million litres of SAF and 100 million litres of e-SAF.


Significantly, feedstock for either venture is envisaged to be camelina, a plant species cultivated in many parts of the world for its high oil content of up to 40 per cent. Suited for desert environments, camelina is proposed to be cultivated on a large-scale utilizing part of the prodigious quantities of treated produced water from oilfield operations or treated effluent provided by Nama Water Services.


According to Jones of X2E, feasibility studies carried out by the company have explored the entire market basis for SAF and eSAF production in the Sultanate of Oman. Separate spinoffs have also been created to oversee, on the one hand, the procurement of irrigation water for camelina cultivation, and on the other, the large-scale agricultural farming of the crop. Massive tracts of land are envisioned for camelina cultivation not only in Oman, but in parts of the UAE and Saudi Arabia as well, he said.


Given the overall scale of the initiative over the long-term, the knock-on benefits for Oman – in the form of employment generation, value creation and GDP growth – will be immense, he added.



oman observer