The intended fermentation installation for the production of liquefied natural gas LNG will be relocated in the Harlinger Industrial Harbour: Vermilion’s gas treatment station.
The SFP Group wants to ferment vegetable waste into LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) in Harlingen. In the spring of 2021, the young company reserved 4 hectares of undeveloped land on the Lange Lijnbaan, at the back of the harbour. That piece can be put up for sale again, says CFO Erik Brouwer.
His company has entered into a partnership with the Canadian Vermilion Energy and the state-owned company EBN (Energie Beheer Nederland). Vermilion and EBN both own the gas treatment station along Zuidwalweg: 13 hectares full of shiny pipes, gas silos and buildings.
Since Vermilion pumped up the last gas from the Wadden Sea, the installation has virtually come to a standstill. The whole complex appeared to be on the line for demolition. The gas company thought about a new destination and started talks with SFP last year. Brouwer admits that he and his partner Niels Peters were initially quite skeptical about this approach.
“After all, they are from the oil and gas industry, the fossil fuel,” clarifies Brouwers. ,,Of course we had heard that Vermilion was also trying to do something with bio-LNG, but that didn’t seem to get off the ground. We wouldn’t have thought it a good idea, by the way, to have two such fermentation installations in the port.”
Ultimately, the parties came to an agreement. “The reuse of these locations for the production of new, sustainable energies is a great asset for the Netherlands,” says Annemiek Asschert of EBN. Brouwer is well aware that with Vermilion and EBN behind it, SFP will have much better access to the energy market.
Vermilion’s pipeline network will soon be available for SFP’s bio-LNG. Both SFP directors have sworn that they want to run the biogas factory their way. “Just like we do at our location in Zeeland. We have a very clean factory there. We think that is very important.”
SFP will occupy approximately 6 hectares of the Vermilion site. The fermentation installation will be located on the part adjacent to the site of transport company Van der Vlas. “We can reuse part of the pipelines and infrastructure,” says Brouwer. “The same goes for the buildings. That is of course very sustainable.”
Another advantage is that the new location borders directly on the water. This means that ships can unload vegetable waste for the fermentation installation. That saves transport movements. There is also a disadvantage to the move to the Zuidwalweg. ,,We had already completed the permits for the Lange Lijnbaan, but we will now have to do it all over again.”
That means a delay for the new construction plans in Harlingen. The new site will have to be partly cleaned up. For example, gas extraction can also release radioactive waste, although Vermilion board member Sven Tummers considers that risk negligible in Harlingen.
“That is why we have moved forward the construction of our third fermentation installation in Delfzijl,” says Brouwer. That factory, almost identical to the Harlinger variant, is being built in Farmsum near Delfzijl, on 4.5 hectares of fallow land next to metal recycler PMC. “We will start building there in the second quarter of 2023. That will take about a year and a half, then Harlingen will follow.”
Brouwer and Peters founded SFP two years ago. “As of June 1, we moved our office from Berlikum to the Vermilion building. We started with just the two of us and if you see it now. It’s going very fast. We already have 22 people at work, from Brabant, Limburg, and Frisians.”