UK firm to build biodiesel plant in China

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, June 18 -- British biodiesel producer D1 Oils PLC plans to build a biodiesel plant in China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, the country's first such facilty using jatropha oil as a feedstock. Japan, India, and the Philippines already have plans under way for such plants.

D1 Oils chief executive of China operations Khoo Hock Aun said the plant would be built in a petrochemical industry park in Baise City in northwestern Guangxi. Expected to be online at yearend 2008 or early 2009, the facility will have an initial processing capacity of 10,000 tonnes/year, rising to 100,000 tonnes/year over 5 years.

The plant will be fed by seed oil from an existing 1,667 hectares of jatropha plantations in Baise, rising to 30,000 hectares by 2008.

The D1 Oils announcement coincides with efforts of all three of China's state oil companies to begin biodiesel production using jatropha and other nonedible feedstocks.

China National Offshore Oil Corp., which plans to produce biodiesel from imported palm oil on Hainan Island, also has signed a preliminary agreement to plant jatropha and process its oil at Panzhihua in Sichuan province.

PetroChina has signed agreements with the provincial governments of Guangxi, Shandong, Sichuan, and Yunnan to produce 200,000 tonnes/year of biodiesel along with 2 million tonnes/year of ethanol.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. has entered into bioenergy partnerships with China National Cereals, Oils & Foodstuffs Corp., and Chengdu municipal government in Sichuan.

The national firms' interest in nonedible supply sources increased after China—concerned about rising food costs and dwindling agricultural land—banned biofuel projects using grains such as corn and wheat.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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