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United Airlines Becomes First U.S. Carrier to Invest in a Biofuel Refinery

United Airlines Ventures (UAV) has today announced a strategic investment in NEXT Renewable Fuels, becoming the first U.S. airline to invest in a biofuel refinery. NEXT is permitting a flagship refinery in Port Westward, Oregon, with production expected from 2026.

United Becomes First U.S> Airline to Invest in Biofuel Refinery - Courtesy United Airlines

On Tuesday (November 15, 2022), United Airlines announced that their wholly-owned subsidiary, United Airlines Ventures (UAV) announced a strategic investment in NEXT Renewable Fuels (NEXT), which is currently permitting a flagship biofuel refinery in Port Westward, Oregon, and expects to begin production in 2026. The biorefinery is being developed by Houston-based NEXT, and at full capacity could produce up to 50,000 barrels per day of SAF, renewable diesel and other renewable fuels. Additionally, the refiner has secured an agreement with BP for sourcing 100 percent of its feedstock, and has also received an air permit from the State of Oregon. If certain milestones are met, UAV could invest as much at $37.5 million in NEXT.

In Tuesday’s announcement, United Airlines Ventures’ President, Michael Leskinen, said,

“Right now, one of the biggest barriers to increasing supply and lowering costs of sustainable fuel is that we don’t have the infrastructure in place to transport it efficiently, but NEXT's strategic location and assets solve that problem and provide a blueprint for future facilities that need to be built. We believe this investment will not only bolster NEXT's ambitions and create near-term solutions to expand our SAF supply, but further demonstrates our commitment toward producing SAF at the scale necessary to decarbonize the aviation industry.”

Also commenting on United’s investment, NEXT’s Chairman and CEO, Christopher Efird, said,

“The clean fuels industry is taking off and our access to feedstocks, multi-modal distribution, and major industry players positions us to be a leading SAF supplier on the West Coast. United's investment in NEXT strengthens our resolve to be one of the clean fuels leaders in the transportation sector.”

Today’s announcement is the fifth SAF-related investment by UAV, and the company’s first direct investment in a biorefinery. United Airlines has invested in More SAF production than any other airline the world, and has also operated the first passenger flight using 100 percent SAF in one engine. The carrier has also launched the ‘Eco-Skies Alliance’ program, with some 30 corporate participants purchasing over 7.0 million gallons of SAF.

United Airlines’ shared purpose is “Connecting People. Uniting the World.” In 2019, United and United Express® carriers operated over 1.7 million flights carrying over 162 million guests. United Airlines operates the most comprehensive network among North American carriers with mainland U.S. hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Shares in the company’s parent, United Airlines Holdings, Inc., are publicly traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol ‘UAL.’

Source: United Airlines


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