Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc)'s Ruwais refinery received the International Sustainability Carbon Certification to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), in a first for a company in the Middle East, as the state energy company forges ahead with its decarbonisation plan.
The Germany-based ISCC is a certification body empowered by the European Union to verify the sustainability of fuel.
The international certification will allow Adnoc to supply its SAF to international airlines at Abu Dhabi International Airport, the company said on Tuesday.
The first batch, enough to fuel a return flight in a Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner between Abu Dhabi and Paris, will be available later this month.
"The development of sustainable aviation fuel is a key part of our strategy to deliver lower carbon fuels to our customers," Sultan Al Bigishi, acting chief executive of Adnoc Refining, said.
"We are committed to supporting the aviation industry's effort to ramp-up the use of sustainable aviation fuel as one of the key pillars to decarbonise air travel."
Adnoc’s SAF is produced from used cooking oil feedstock that is blended with jet fuel at the company’s Ruwais refinery.
SAF refers to alternative fuels made from renewable sources that are used to power aircraft and is crucial for the global aviation industry to reach its net-zero goal by 2050.
However, its adoption is still in its early stages due to small-scale production and the green fuel's higher cost, compared with conventional kerosene.
The International Air Transport Association estimates that SAF could contribute about 65 per cent of the reduction in emissions needed by the aviation industry to reach its net-zero emissions by the middle of the century.
However, producing the required quantities of the alternative fuel would require large areas of land and natural resources.
Air passengers are most likely have to foot the bill for switching to the cleaner fuel as the airline industry says its razor-thin profit margins means it has to pass on some of the cost to passengers, Iata said.
Airlines are buying every single drop of available SAF but the alternative fuel makes up just 0.15 per cent of the global jet fuel supply, Iata said earlier.
The UAE, the Middle East's travel and tourism hub, revealed its National Sustainable Aviation Fuel Road Map in January, which aims to accelerate the decarbonisation of the aviation sector, as stated by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure's website.
The UAE, also a major global aviation hub, is home to long-haul airlines Emirates and Etihad Airways and budget specialists Air Arabia, flydubai, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.
The country has pledged to reach net zero by 2050, backed by a Dh600 billion investment in clean and renewable energy sources over the next three decades.
Adnoc said it is working to include SAF in its portfolio in response to customer demand, thereby contributing to the aviation industry's sustainability.
Adnoc Global Trading is responsible for sourcing suitable bio feedstocks from the market into refinery operations.
"As our face to the market, trading can ramp up these activities to supply global and domestic customers with lower-carbon and more sustainable alternative fuels, products and feedstocks," the company said.
The ISCC has issued more than 50 certificates in SAF supply chains to date, of which more than 30 fall under ISCC Corsia, with more certifications in the pipeline, the organisation's website said.
“This certification is an important step forward on our sustainability journey and will open up a whole host of new opportunities both in the UAE and beyond," Ahmad Bin Thalith, chief executive of Adnoc Global Trading, said.
"Trading biofuels enables Adnoc to offer our global and domestic customers more sustainable alternatives. As first adopters in the region, we are well-placed to meet the drive in market demand for these sought-after, internationally certified products."
Emirates on October 2 said it signed an agreement with Shell Aviation for the supply of more than 300,000 gallons of blended sustainable aviation fuel for use at its hub in Dubai.
The first delivery under the agreement is expected to start before the end of the year, making it the first time that the clean fuel is supplied through the Dubai International Airport's fuelling system, Emirates said on Monday.