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Shell Oil bids $26 million for Abengoa’s advanced biofuel plant

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By Chris Prentice | NEW YORK

Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s U.S. arm has offered more than $26 million to buy Abengoa SA’s cellulosic ethanol plant in Kansas, according to documents filed late Wednesday in bankruptcy court.

Shell’s initial bid on Abengoa’s bankrupt biofuels asset marks the oil major’s latest push into renewable fuels as the U.S. government is getting its over decade-old biofuels policy back on track following years of regulatory delays.

“This move is in line with Shell’s strategy to develop biofuels” that use sustainable feedstocks, Shell spokeswoman Natalie Mazey said in an emailed statement.

For Abengoa, the potential sale is the latest step to shed its U.S. renewables assets as the company pushes on with efforts to avoid becoming Spain’s biggest bankruptcy after more than a decade of heavy borrowing to fuel an expansion into clean energy.

Shell has offered the sum as a “stalking horse” bid, which serves as an initial base bid in the auction process, according to the filings. The company asked the U.S. bankruptcy court in Kansas to expedite a sale hearing for Friday.

Abengoa has already auctioned off several of its conventional ethanol assets. Its 25-million-gallon cellulosic plant near Hugoton, Kansas, can turn plant waste into an advanced biofuel that qualifies for the country’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program.

Shell also has a sugar-ethanol joint venture with Brazil’s Cosan SA Industria e Comercio and said earlier this year it wants renewables including biofuels and wind to become “essential” for the company.

(Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Richard Chang)

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