TO THE FIRE
Prior to launching the refinery megaproject in Singapore, Neste Oil had established
cooperative agreements with suppliers
to source feedstocks for its home-base
plants in Finland.
On the new, larger initiative, the company had to expand that operation, and
further develop the sustainability practices
to meet the most stringent regulatory
That process was all the more important because the cultivation practices of
palm oil, one of the main ingredients in
NExBTL creation, have caused controversy among environmentalists worldwide.
The vast majority of the world’s palm oil
comes from Southeast Asia—but the same
lowland forests that provide palm oil for
production are the only remaining orang-utan habitat.
Project team members “had
good access to detailed information about the technology and the kind of solutions
that are available,” as well as
those elements to be avoided,
Mr. Jokinen says. This was
accomplished through the
establishment of a process
licensor team that provided
all required support and background information for the
technical and project management team during design, construction, commissioning and
Managing this outspoken group of
stakeholders has been eased by the creation of the Roundtable on Sustainable
Palm Oil, a not-for-profit organization with
the objective to develop and implement
global standards for sustainable palm oil.
While Neste Oil owns the
process technology, it sought
a contractor for developing an
Now, Indonesia, as the world’s largest
palm oil producer, is becoming a benchmark for emerging markets to adopt sustainable practices, with new regulatory and
legal certifications passing into protocol.
The organization sent out
an RFP (request for proposal),
and following a competitive
bidding process, the Italian
company Technip was chosen
as the EPCM (engineering,
procurement and construction
As for operations and
maintenance, Neste Oil’s project leaders chose to recruit
and build that team using Singapore
residents. Technip also dipped into the
local talent pool for its construction
A skilled worker base cemented
Neste Oil’s decision to build up a
permanent division in Singapore, Mr.
Jokinen says. “As the country has a
significant amount of oil refining
and petrochemical industry, there are
already a lot of professionals with the
right type of education and industrial
experience,” he explains. “In other
places in the world, not having that
kind of established industry in place
would mean the company would have
to invest much more in training per-
In Singapore, rather than worrying
about building up appropriate techno-
logical and managerial competencies,
“we were able to do hiring in a market-
place where the right kind of personnel
exists,” Mr. Jokinen says.
The project team addressed safety with
execution design reviews of the plant’s
hazards and operability. Safety requirements were included in contracts, and
contractors received specialized training. A behavior-based safety system was
also implemented, covering all safety
concerns and procedures that could
arise, with the goal of decreasing the
number of work-related injuries. Those
results were discussed monthly by
senior management, and all recordable
safety incidents were investigated formally. Technip and other contractors
were then required to propose actions
to rectify problems.
IT systems needed during the construction phase fell under Technip’s
domain. Neste Oil ran a parallel sub-project to define and implement all
telecommunications, IT network infrastructure and business applications
according to the organization’s corporate practices.
The construction team discovered
that different methods had to be used
compared to projects in Europe, for
example. Much less pre-cast concrete
structures were used, while more activities were performed with manual labor.
Construction completed on schedule and on budget last year, and commercial operations began in November.
Today, the Tuas refinery produces
1 billion liters ( 2 trillion gallons) of
diesel fuel per annum.
Next up for the company is a similar-sized facility in Rotterdam, Netherlands
as well as a change in the variety of
feedstocks used in the biodiesel creation