The subsidiary of Indonesia’s state-owned energy company Pertamina, PGN, along with three Japanese firms are exploring the production of biomethane from palm oil mill effluent (POME) to meet the growing demand for natural gas and reduce methane emissions.
The consortium consisting of PGN, JGC Holdings Corporation, Osaka Gas and Inpex Corporation is currently conducting a study for the commercialization of such a product in Indonesia in 2025, utilizing PGN’s natural gas distribution network.
The raw material will source from oil palm plantations in South Sumatra.
The project aims to recover methane gas released into the atmosphere from POME, refine it into biomethane, and distribute it to customers through natural gas pipelines and other existing infrastructure.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, untreated POME releases methane, which is over 25 times more potent than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Harry Budi Sidharta, PGN’s Director of Strategy and Business Development, said that the biomethane produced from the project is expected to meet industrial gas and consumer demand. Additionally, it will serve as a demonstration of Pertamina and its partners’ commitment to encouraging the development of renewable energy.
According to data from the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki), as the world’s largest palm oil exporter, Indonesia produced 46.72 million tonnes of crude palm oil in 2022.
Indonesia used about 8.84 million tonnes of the output to produce biodiesel for the usage in road fuels domestically, the association said in its annual report published earlier this year.
The use of palm oil for making biodiesel is expected to increase this year after the government lifted the national ratio of biodiesel to gasoil mix to 35% from 30% in February.