Italian oil and gas company Eni has started exporting vegetable oil for biorefining from its processing plant in Kenya.

The first cargo of vegetable oil produced by the company left the port of Mombasa for delivery to Eni’s Gela biorefinery, the company said on 11 October.

The delivery marked the start of a transport and logistic system with an initial production of 2,500 tonnes by the end of this year, increasing to 20,000 tonnes next year, Eni said.

The vegetable oil is produced in the company’s pressing plant or ‘agri-hub’ in Makueni, which opened in July, that processes castor, cottonseeds and croton and also produces feed and bio-fertilisers from the oilseed meal.

“Just three months after the start-up of the Makueni agri-hub, we are launching the export of the vegetable oil for the biorefineries, through a vertical integration model that enables the promotion of sustainable local development while valorising the supply chain for biofuels production,” Eni’s CEO Claudio Descalzi said.

Following the start-up of production in Kenya, Descalzi said the company was planning to extend the project to Congo next year, with the aim of gradually involving other African countries and geographic areas.

Eni Kenya’s supply chain and all agri-feedstock are certified under the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC-EU) sustainability scheme, one of the main voluntary standards recognised by the European Commission for biofuel certification (RED II).

The company’s castor and croton had gained ISCC-EU certification for biofuel use under the ISCC-EU scheme.

Eni launched its project in Kenya last year, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kenyan institutions.

In addition to vegetable oil, Eni has started exporting used cooking oil (UCO) collected from bars, hotel chains and restaurants in Nairobi.