Construction of Qatar novel protein plant using Unibio technology to begin in 2023

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Buena Vista Images
© GettyImages/Buena Vista Images

Related tags: Unibio, Single cell protein

Unibio’s licensing partner, the Doha-based industrial biotech investor, Gulf Biotech, has reached the final stages before construction in the first single-cell protein (SCP) plant project in Qatar.

Gulf Biotech has completed its feasibility study on the viability of the plant, ensuring it is adapted to local conditions, and the company says it has now entered the Front-end Engineering Design (FEED) stage of the SCP project.

Construction of the factory is set to begin in early 2023, with the site expected to be up and running by the end of 2024 at the earliest, a spokesperson for the Danish protein innovator told us.

The plant will use Unibio’s U-Loop technology, where methane is converted through continuous fermentation to produce an SCP branded as Uniprotein. The initial target for the protein product will be in aquaculture production, both regionally and globally, said the representative.

“Qatar is a country that is rich in natural gas resources but has little or no farmland or the ability to produce protein for its population or the surrounding region. By using our technology to produce protein locally, it helps to utilize their abundant resources, to directly enhance food security,” ​said Unibio.

The company outlined how the production of Uniprotein is highly resource-efficient and sustainable compared with the production of traditional protein. Relative to soy production, Uniprotein uses no arable land and significantly less water. Initial production is estimated to be 9,000 tons of protein per year.

“I am confident that together with our partners, we will play a pivotal role in being part of the solution in Qatar and beyond and look forward to updating our investors on this FEED result in due course,"​ commented David Henstrom, CEO of Unibio.

The terms of the agreement between the two entities have not been disclosed.

Aquaculture growth

Fishing farming is increasingly seen by the Qatar authorities as a means of promoting food self-sufficiency while also being a way to boost exports. Thus, the country has developed a strategy to encourage investment in aquaculture production.

June 2021 saw Qatar’s environment ministry launch an initiative aimed at the production of over 600 tons of tilapia fish annually across two fish farms.

The National Initiative for Farming Tilapia Fish looks to provide additional income to farmers, to diversify the production of fish, and to contribute to the strengthening of food security in the country, according to a report on local media, Doha News​.

Meanwhile, Samakna is the region’s first offshore aquaculture project. Operational since November 2020, the farm is located 50km offshore from Qatar’s Ruwais region and produces 2,000 tons of fish annually. The initiative uses floating-cage technology.

Run by Al Qamra holding, a Qatar based business conglomerate, the Samakna business also includes a factory site, close to the fish farm, for the handling of the final production stages.

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