Business Briefs

By | December 20, 2010
In a move intended to avoid delisting by the New York Stock Exchange, GreenHunter Energy Inc. relinquished ownership of its 105 MMgy multifeedstock biodiesel production plant on the Houston Ship Channel in Texas, formerly operated under its subsidiary GreenHunter Biofuels LLC. According to Jonathan Hoopes, GreenHunter Energy president and chief operating officer, the company transferred all of its ownership shares to a trust for holders of its 10 percent debentures due in 2012. The company was notified by the NYSE about a year ago that it wasn't in compliance with listing requirements when GreenHunter's shareholder equity fell below the exchange's minimum $6 million threshold to remain listed. As a result, the stock exchange threatened to delist the diversified energy company from its NYSE Amex Equities listing if the company didn't improve its net liquidity. Rather than issue more shares, Hoopes says, the company decided it was best to restructure its balance sheet through a maneuver of divesting its subsidiary, which raised shareholder equity above $8 million.

Enzyme company Verenium Corp. has partnered with global oils, fats and biodiesel technology firm Desmet Ballestra to expand the use and geographic reach of its vegetable-oil-specific enzyme, Purifine PLC. Nearly a month after announcing a partnership with Alfa Laval to jointly market the enzyme, Verenium has signed with Desmet Ballestra to market the Purifine enzymatic degumming process, while packaging the enzyme with Desmet Ballestra's processing equipment and engineering services.

Little Rock, Ark.-based biodiesel consulting group Lee Enterprises added four new consultants in the past couple of months. The most recent is Jess Hewitt, chairman of Gulf Hydrocarbon Inc., who has more than 30 years of experience in the energy sector. He led the Biodiesel Coalition of Texas during 2009 and 2010 and served on the advisory board for the New York Mercantile Exchange propane and natural gas contracts. Formerly a member of the National Biodiesel Board, Hewitt is also a member of the ASTM committee governing petroleum products and biodiesel. Lee Enterprises also added John Hardy, corporate counsel; Angela Young, Native American Affairs; and Kent Bullard, a BQ-9000 consultant.

Milwaukie, Ore.-based Biomass Renewable Technologies Inc. has signed an agreement with Whole Energy Fuels Corp. of Bellingham, Wash., to manage the marketing, sales, production and deployment of its proprietary biodiesel production processes and equipment. BRT, a chemical process development company, holds patents for several renewable energy technology processes, including those for biodiesel, gasification and anaerobic digestion. Regarding biodiesel technologies, BRT offers both biodiesel production systems and add-on specialty modules, the latter being a significant area of focus recently. One such module is designed to aid plants that are using high free fatty acid feedstock. Other modules offered can solve problems associated with methanol recovery, sterol removal, feedstock degumming and product purification. Under the agreement, Whole Energy will provide marketing, project management and customer service for the deployment of BRT's technologies and processes.

Darling International Inc. announced its board of directors has unanimously approved a merger agreement to acquire Griffin Industries Inc., a provider of value-added rendering and cooking oil recycling services. Under the merger agreement, Darling will acquire Griffin Industries for approximately $840 million in cash and stock. Griffin Industries' holdings currently include 12 rendering plants and one biodiesel production facility. Darling announced a green diesel project with Valero in September 2009. At that time, the company said it was seeking to form a joint venture with a subsidiary of Valero Energy Corp. to develop a 135 MMgy renewable diesel facility adjacent to an existing Valero refinery. As announced in 2009, the facility would convert waste grease supplied by Darling into renewable diesel.

Municipal transit service provider City-Link unveiled a fully wrapped 1999 model bus to promote the use of B20 blends in its diesel-fueled fleets during a media event on Nov. 12 in Peoria, Ill. The service company has been using biodiesel in its fleets since 2005, beginning with B2 and then B11. The company moved to B20 in August last year. According to Rick Tieken, assistant general manager of CityLink, the wrapped bus serves as a reminder of CityLink's commitment to the public and other municipal fleet organizations the benefits of using B20 in fleets.

Temecula, Calif.-based Promethean Biofuels Cooperative Corp. has been recognized by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) for its waste reduction efforts. As a winner of the 2010 CalRecycle Waste Reduction Award Program, Promethean will receive authorization to use the WRAP winner logo with its products, advertising and business websites to publicize its waste reduction achievements. Promethean's 2 MMgy biodiesel plant has been operating since January, and is currently producing between 5,000 and 25,000 gallons of biodiesel per week, depending on how much feedstock is available, says Todd Hill, Promethean's founder.

The National Alliance for Biofuels and Bioproducts has successfully produced ASTM-quality biodiesel from oil extracted from algae. The NAABB, made up of scientists and engineers from universities, private industry and national laboratories, received $44 million from the U.S. DOE to develop a commercial process for algal biofuel. In its first year, it has produced a small sample of the algal fuel. The oil was supplied by Eldorado Biofuels and was converted using the T300 solid catalyst system developed by Catilin Inc. The consortium will now disperse samples of the algae-based fuel to all 13 of its members for further analysis.

A new fuel station in the New York metro area is now offering B5 to customers. The location, a Sunoco station located in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx, caters primarily to fleet drivers. Biodiesel sold at the station is being supplied by Bronx-based Tri-State Biodiesel LLC, a local waste cooking oil collector, renderer and biodiesel marketer. TSB partners with Rochester-based Northern Biodiesel Inc. for biodiesel production. According to TSB CEO Brent Baker, his company supplies feedstock to Northern Biodiesel, and then markets the resulting biodiesel in the New York metro area. TSB is currently working to contact fleets to fuel with B5 at the Sunoco station. While he cannot provide an estimate of how much biodiesel might be sold at the station over the next year, Baker notes that two of the fleets his company is working to get onboard with the fuel would utilize up to 100,000 gallons of fuel per month. "We're hoping it will be more than that," Baker says.

In December, Renewable Energy Group Inc. began offering its branded REG-9000 biodiesel for splash blending at a Kinder Morgan terminal site near Chicago, in Agro, Ill. According to Jon Scharingson, REG's director of marketing, the new terminal will expand REG's downstream capabilities that will allow petroleum marketers to continue to supply biodiesel to a healthy B11 market. The Kinder Morgan terminal is equipped to handle large volumes of various fuel and chemical commodities that feature a total storage capacity of nearly 2.5 million barrels from 218 tanks, with each tank having a storage capacity range between 50,000 and 80,000 barrels. Located along the shore of Lake Michigan, the terminal has access to multiple forms of land and water transport. REG expects biodiesel from its two production facilities in Seneca and Danville to be the primary suppliers for the new terminal location.

Dec. 1 marked a major milestone for the nation's transition to ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel as all highway diesel fuel in the U.S. complies with the landmark 15 parts per million (ppm) sulfur standard-a 97 percent reduction in sulfur content from diesel's 2006 levels. The deadline was mandated by the U.S. EPA. However, according to EPA's pump survey, the highway transition to ULSD was actually completed a few weeks prior to the deadline. "It is quite a remarkable feat that refiners have been able to reduce the sulfur content in diesel fuel by 97 percent," said Allen Schaeffer, the executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. "The United States now officially has the cleanest on-road diesel fuel in the world."
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