Croatian oil firm INA aims for $282 million biorefinery investment

Croatia’s oil and gas firm INA said it aims to invest 250 million euros ($282.4 million) to build a biorefinery in the central town of Sisak to help reduce its carbon footprint.

The company, whose biggest shareholders are Hungary’s energy group MOL and the Croatian government, has applied for strategic project approval at Croatia’s ministry of economy and entrepreneurship.

It is also seeking European Union funding, as the bloc of which Croatia and Hungary are members, aspires to cut emissions to zero by 2050.

“The support of the EU and the Croatian government are key preconditions for the final implementation of this important project ... which fits into the Green Plan and European Energy Strategy,” Sandor Fasimon, INA Board President, said in a statement.

The Croatian government had no immediate comment.

INA owns two refineries, one in Rijeka and a smaller one in Sisak, where it is developing an industrial facility producing bitumen from 2021.

As part of the industrial complex, the refinery would produce advanced bioethanol from second-generation, sustainable biomass, as well as green power, INA said.

In February, INA signed a deal with Axens, awarding the French group the licence to supply cellulose ethanol technology and the basic engineering design for advanced bioethanol production.

Last year, INA also inked a deal with Belgian firm De Smet Engineers & Contractors on the provisional basic design for an ancillary facility and its integration into the existing refinery.

INA plans to invest 50 million euros to establish a raw material supply chain, primarily into plantations of the biomass crop miscanthus, which is regarded as a sustainable source of biofuel.

Croatia expects to start talks with MOL on a possible buyback of INA shares by the end of June. ($1 = 0.8853 euros)

Reporting by Maja Zuvela in Sarajevo; Editing by Daria Sito-Sucic and Barbara Lewis

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