Saipem's energy transition strategy hinges mainly on the so-called Bio-X market, which includes various sectors that exploit biological, raw materials, such as biofuels and bio-plastics.
We have studied the biofuel production processes and technologies in detail, with a special focus on second generation bio-ethanol.
This was the framework for the agreement we signed with Versalis to promote the PROESA® technology used to produce sustainable bio-ethanol and chemical substances from lignocellulosic biomass. Saipem and Versalis will provide integrated, technologically advanced solutions for the sustainable production of bio-ethanol. The PROESA® process does not use food crops for human consumption as its raw material. Instead, it produces second generation bio-ethanol via a process of hydrolysis and subsequent fermentation of agricultural biomasses in plentiful supply, such as agricultural waste, wood shavings and energy crops. Furthermore, we are also working on bio-plastic technologies with partnerships and business opportunities for PLA (Polylactic Acid).
We have conducted a detailed investigation into biodegradable and bio-based plastic technologies, and we are currently developing a feasibility study to construct a 30 ktA PLA plant in northern Italy. PLA is a thermoplastic polyester that comes from organic raw materials via C fermentation, rather than from petroleum.
As regards biomass conversion, a detailed investigation was conducted into the processes and technologies to produce biofuel from liquid and solid biomass using hydro-processing technologies of vegetable oils or enzymatic hydrolysis and the fermentation of the processing waste from wood, straw or solid waste from food processing.
Special attention is also being paid to the management and transformation of urban solid waste downstream of the re-use and recycling processes using WASTE-TO-X technologies in order to produce bio-GAS, methanol and/or synthetic fuels.
Energy efficiency and technology on board our E&C fleet
As part of our short and medium/long-term strategy to achieve NetZero, we are also focusing on research to find practical solutions to use low carbon emission fuels for our existing assets while we renew our Offshore E&C fleet of ships, as alternative fuels are facing technical challenges and barriers.
To do this, during the 2022 winter maintenance period, we will organise a test with a biofuel for one of the main ships in our fleet, the Saipem 7000.
The operational test procedure and the monitoring protocol have been set up by Saipem in close collaboration with the biofuel supplier and the manufacturer of the motors and the fuel treatment system. Once these tests have been completed successfully, running the Saipem 7000 and other ships on 100% renewable biodiesel will enable Saipem to drastically reduce the CO2 footprint of its operations at sea and will be a tangible step forward to achieving our objectives and those of our clients of decarbonisation.