Eni Sustainable Mobility has formed a 50/50 joint venture with petroleum refiner and supplier PBF Energy to work in partnership on a bio-refinery in the USA, which is currently under construction on the site of PBF’s Chalmette refinery in Louisiana.

The joint venture, which is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval, would be called St Bernard Renewables (SBR), the companies said on 16 February.

Eni Sustainable Mobility said it would invest up to US$835M – and a further US$50M subject to project milestones – in the joint venture and provide expertise in bio-refining operations, supply and marketing.

PBF said it would contribute its industrial knowledge of the USA to the project and would operate the biorefinery, which was scheduled to start production in the first half of this year.

“Joining the St Bernard Renewables biorefinery project enables Eni to enter into a growing US biofuels market together with a strong partner such as PBF,” Eni Sustainable Mobility CEO Stefano Ballista said.

The facility was expected to have a processing capacity of about 1.1M tonnes/year of raw materials, with full pre-treatment capabilities, the companies said. It would produce mainly hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) diesel, which is commonly known as ‘renewable diesel’ in North America, with a production capacity of 1.15bn litres/year (306M gallons/year).

The biorefinery would use the Ecofining process developed by Eni in cooperation with Honeywell UOP, the companies said.

Eni Sustainable Mobility, which started operation on 1 January, is part of Italian oil and gas company Eni and is involved in operations relating to bio-refining, marketing and distribution of fuels, including HVO and biomethane.