Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

Biodiesel breakthrough comes at £13m cost to BP-backed firm logo

• D1 reports first shipment with first-half loss
• 300,000 hectares will soon be under cultivation

  • The Guardian, 
  • Wednesday October 1 2008

A revolutionary plan to produce green fuel from the jatropha plant has passed a major test by delivering its first shipments.

D1 Oils, the British company behind the scheme, says it is well on the way to reaching its target of producing 1,000 tonnes of crude jatropha oil by December. “We are pleased to have demonstrated through the delivery of our first crude vegetable oil the potential of jatropha as a biofuel crop,” said Lord Oxburgh, the former chairman of Shell who is now chairman of D1.

Jatropha had proved itself to be an alternative fuel source that did not compete with food crops for available land or threaten biodiversity because it could be grown on marginal arable land and can be irrigated by waste water, added Elliott Mannis, chief executive of the firm.

“D1’s position as a leading developer in jatropha plant science differentiates us significantly in a market that increasingly requires biofuels that are not only competitive but also sustainable,” said Mannis, whose firm has brought in BP as a joint venture partner.

The plants are grown on plantations in Zambia and India. The seeds are crushed locally and sold for tractor fuel and other uses at $1,400-$1,500 (£790-£840) a tonne. Longer term, D1 and BP expect to supply growing demand in Britain and other industrialised countries.

D1 says it has planted 260,000 hectares (640,000 acres) and hopes to have 300,000 hectares in place by the end of the year. Work is going on to investigate the potential of removing toxins from waste jatropha seed cake, allowing it to be used as animal feed. The start-up business, which is listed on Aim, raised £14.9m of funds in May and said it would remain “cash positive” through to the end of 2009.

Shares in D1 fell 4.5% as it reported a first-half net loss of £13.1m. The City believes the end-of-year deficit could be as high as £20m. Analysts at Dresdner Kleinwort said D1 was making “solid progress” towards producing sustainable biodiesel feedstock. “With some 70% of the market cap supported by net cash on the balance sheet, we continue to see significant upside,” said Alastair Bishop.

D1 has improved its financial position by pulling out of a biofuels refining business it was establishing in the north of England which had been badly undermined by subsidised imports from the US. Nearly 90 jobs have been cut in Middlesbrough and on Merseyside, and D1 is trying to dispose of the refining plant it built.

The European Union is undertaking a study into the impact of US biodiesel. The European Biodiesel Board has called for duties to be imposed on the imports, some of which are the result of “splash and dash” operations moving biofuels through the US just to pick up subsidies.

Green giving

Governments may not be putting enough money into developingrenewable power and saving the planet, but help may be at hand courtesy of eco-chic. Coutts bank is launching a green giving scheme at a dinner on Thursday that it believes will channel large sums into environmental causes. “We’ve seen increased interest in the environment from our clients,” said Mark Evan, head of philanthropy at Coutts. “They want to know everything about it from climate change and energy to pollution and waste to biodiversity and sustainable development.”

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.