Oman’s be’ah proposes biodiesel fuel from waste cooking oil

Oman Environmental Services Holding Company SAOC (be’ah), the Sultanate’s solid waste management flagship, has embarked on a plan to harness the potentially prodigious quantities of used cooking oil (UCO) generated daily across the country for use as feedstock in the production of commercially valuable and eco-friendly biodiesel.

On Monday, the state-run utility invited interest investors to prequalify for a competitive tender leading to the award of a contract for the management and recycling of UCO in the Sultanate.  The initiative is expected to lead to the production and sale of biodiesel in Oman, said be’ah.

“The purpose of this pre-qualification document is to assess international and local interest from developers with relevant experience to manage the collection and/or the treatment of generated (used cooking oil) from local generators to be utilised as a feedstock into biodiesel production, on a Design, build, own and operate (DBOO) basis,” it stated. The utility is allocating a 25,000 sq metre plot of land within the Barka landfill for the establishment of the biodiesel facility.

According to experts, sizable quantities of cooking oil are generated every day by hotels, restaurants, fast food outlets, school cafeterias, catering companies, camps and even residential homes. While a portion of this waste is collected by firms for onward export to overseas-based recyclers, the remainder is understood to be disposed of in drains and landfills. Additionally, there are concerns that waste cooking oil is being resold to the detriment of public health.

Indeed, consumer and environmental health are underlying objectives behind this biodiesel project is environment-driven, says be’ah. The initiative aims to (i) eliminate illegal dumping of used cooking oil down the drain, which leads to blockages that cost the government of Oman major expenses to resolve these blockages; and (ii) eradicate environmental and health concerns resulting from the reselling or reusing of UCO in refrying causing severe health impacts.

A key goal is to harness the commercial potential behind the recycling of waste cooking oil, be’ah has stressed.  By promoting recycling and conversion into biodiesel, the project will help reinforce a recently introduced ban on exports of recyclable waste and thereby encourage the commercialization of recycling opportunities in-country.

Equally, it will promote the “replacement of petroleum diesel consumption by integrating appropriate biodiesel blends that minimize the negative effects on standard diesel engines and NOx emissions”, be’ah further added.

Interested investors have been invited to submit an outline of their proposal for the “design, build, procurement, construction, insurance, financing, testing, commissioning, operating and maintaining a biodiesel production facility” using used cooking oil as feedstock.  Also solicited by be’ah are details about the choice of advanced and efficient technologies that are proposed by the investor to minimise energy and chemical losses, while producing biodiesel at “international quality standards”.

be’ah says it is collaborating with Royal Oman Police Customs to restrict any exports of used cooking oil with the goal of promoting its recycling in-house.  Collectors duly approved by be’ah and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA) will also be integrated into the collection scheme, it stated.