Z Energy Biodiesel Plant

Nov 17, 2014

Last year Fitzroy Engineering won a design and project pricing contract for a proposed multi-million-dollar biodiesel plant for New Zealand’s listed national fuel retailer Z Energy in Wiri, South Auckland.

This significant contract was completed by the Fitzroy Project Services office in Auckland which led to Z Energy carrying out the front end engineering and design (FEED) process.  Earlier this year Z Energy made a positive final investment decision (FID) for the construction of a $21 million plant and awarded the significant engineering, procurement, construction and management (EPCM) contract to Fitzroy in April.  

The plant will produce up to 20 million litres of biodiesel per year from tallow (animal fat) and/or used cooking oils to help establish a North Island blended biodiesel market. The plant has also been designed to produce approximately two million litres per year of the byproduct glycerol that could end up as a carbon source for the anaerobic treatment of wastewater, although this is still in the experimental stage.

This facility -- still believed to be the first large-scale biodiesel plant in the country -- is designed to be “scalable” and can later be expanded to twice the size through the upgrading of the biodiesel batch process.

Fitzroy is progressing well with the EPCM contract, with all main sub-contracts except two awarded and with those outstanding sub-contracts expected to be awarded by Christmas.  Detailed design is now over 70% complete and all major components have been ordered, with plant commissioning scheduled for October or November 2015.

Site works have started, with contouring the land, including “pre-loading” the ground under the tank farm and processing the soil by placing large weights on top of the soil for up to four months to improve the condition of the ground and remove any likely “settlements” of the land that would otherwise have to be done after construction of the plant has been completed.

At present up to a dozen Fitzroy Engineering staff are involved in the biodiesel project, both in New Plymouth and Auckland, though that number will grow as the project progresses.

Z Energy says its biodiesel will satisfy the highest New Zealand and European fuel specifications.

Its initial biodiesel production is likely to be allocated to commercial customers that typically use the biofuel in B5 to B20 blends (of five to 20 percent biodiesel to mineral diesel) in heavy vehicles but Z also expects to supply a B5 blend to a variety of upper North Island retail sites.

Fitzroy is also undertaking the implementation of another plant, for the blending of mineral diesel and biodiesel, at the Wiri Oil Services site. This project is additional to the main plant of converting tallow to biodiesel. It has yet to start but is scheduled for early 2015 as it has to be in place for the start-up of the main project.

“We are again thrilled that Z Energy has awarded us this second significant contract, following on from our earlier work,” says Fitzroy managing director Richard Ellis.