Omani-Scottish waste to value start-up X2E is lining up projects worth $1.6 billion across the alternative fuel value chain including biodiesel and Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) over the next two years, its Founder and CEO John Jones told Zawya Projects in an exclusive interview.

The company plans to cultivate Camelina - a drought resistant high oil content seed - to initially make biofuel for marine and road transport applications and venture into SAF production later.

Jones said the business will be vertically integrated with separate entities managing the feedstock cultivation, recycled water production for irrigation, seed extraction, and the refineries producing biodiesel and SAF. Separate investors, partners and technology providers will be onboarded for each of the ventures, he said.

Sayyala, the water company, will treat wastewater with the lowest carbon intensity and cost-effective technologies on the market and give it to the agricultural company FEI for irrigation, it will also deal with the seed oil extraction and high-tech pharma by-products while G2X will manage waste gases and CO2 to power.

“There are separate investors for Sayyala and for FEI, which we can't announce yet, but we are in term sheet [stage]. The initial investment for Sayyala is $18 million and for the farming venture is about $3.5 to $4 million but we're scaling up in a big way. We're looking at an investment of $1.6 billion in the next two years for the entire value chain from agriculture to biodiesel to SAF,” he disclosed.

He said time from build to actual production will take about 2.5 years. “The first capital close is expected in the second quarter of 2024, and we plan to close the rest of the project capital and engineering by the end of the year. Construction will take another 18 months.” 

“By next week we're announcing a project with a local oil and gas company to treat produced water into irrigation water for growing Camelina, Canola and cereal crops,” he said without elaborating.

The agri-pharma company OMAB is in the formation stage, Jones said.

“Camelina has a 40 percent protein content. The white flesh inside the seed will go to animal feed because it's high protein and the other part will be reprocessed to extract spike proteins for cutting edge dementia treatment. We're teaming up with a pharmaceutical company in Canada to explore this possibility,” he said.

X2E is teaming up with Omani carbon mineralisation pioneer 44.01 to permanently store the excess CO2 generated by their processes, Jones said. The gas management venture G2X will capture, process and utalise waste gases to further lower the Carbon Intensity score of the venture.

In June 2023, Zawya Projects had reported that X2E is taking a 60 percent stake in Omani biodiesel manufacturer Wakud to fund the latter’s capacity expansion.

The partnership announced a $650 million investment for two projects in Sohar and Salalah respectively to produce a total of 450 million litres of biofuel and an additional gasification to Ficher Trophs unit to create SAF using biological feedstock and 15 million gallons of e-SAF.

Overseas expansion

X2E plans to acquire four biodiesel plants globally- one each in the US and Portugal and two in Dubai, Jones revealed without naming the sellers.

The total annual capacity is 75,000 cubic metres (m3) of B100 (100 percent biofuel) with the two plants in Dubai accounting for 30,000 m3, he said.

The total investment is estimated at $106 million which includes the acquisition capital plus operational extensions to each of the four plants to effectively triple the current total capacity, he disclosed.

“We're hoping to reach financial closure by end of first quarter of this year. We should have a term sheet closure and move into acquisition finalisation,” he said.

Jones added the company is in discussions with landowners in Africa and Malaysia for contract farming of Camelina.

(Reporting by Sowmya Sundar; Editing by Anoop Menon)


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