Russian Billionaire Abramovich Banks on Green Jet Fuel Production


By Arman Kazemi

April 24, 2014

If you own one of the most valuable football clubs in the world and sit at the helm of an entire fleet of luxury yachts, green tech might not exactly seem to be up your alley.

But when Roman Abramovich, one of Bloomberg’s Billionaires who is known to the Kremlin crowd simply as “Mr. A,” starts buying clean energy stock, people tend to notice.

In 2013, the Russian oil financier invested almost $8 million in Velocys, a British energy company that specializes in developing synthetic fuels using gas-to-liquids (GTL) and biomass-to-liquids (BTL) technologies.

Velocys’s approach allows jet fuel conversion plants to operate in smaller and more remote locations than other companies involved in GTL and BTL production. This translates to a potential market of up to 25 million barrels of fuel per day that isn’t accessed through traditional extraction means, according to one business blog.

In 2012, Solena Fuels partnered with British Airways to build what they touted as Europe’s first commercial-scale sustainable jet fuel facility. A year later they chose the Abramovich-backed company to provide its technology for their facility.

If successful, it would be the first of several such projects managed by Solena that would see the conversion of up to 575,000 tonnes of bio-waste into synthetic fuels for use by aviation, maritime and road transportation industries.

Once their entire plan comes to fruition, according a press release by Velocys, the post-recycled waste, “normally destined for landfill or incineration, will instead be converted into 120,000 tonnes of clean burning liquid fuels.”

British Airways has committed purchasing all 50,000 tonnes of jet fuel per year the first facility is estimated to produce.

“The sustainable jet fuel produced each year will be enough to power our flights from London City Airport twice over with carbon savings the equivalent of taking 150,000 cars off the road,” Willie Walsh, chief executive officer of International Consolidated Airlines Group, a British Airlines subsidiary, told Bloomberg News.

Last week the partners announced that the initial project, called GreenSky London, will be located on the estuary of the Thames River 45 km east of London, at the site of an old oil refinery formerly owned by BP.