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Big companies invest in biodiesel

May 22, 2006 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 84, Issue 21

Oil refiners on both sides of the Atlantic are putting money into biodiesel, an alternative fuel derived from soybean oil and other renewable feedstocks. Chevron has acquired a 22% stake in Galveston Bay Biodiesel, a Houston-based company building a biodiesel plant in Galveston, Texas, that Chevron says will be one of the first large-scale facilities in the U.S. When it opens at the end of the year, the plant will be able to make 20 million gal of biodiesel annually, almost a 27% increase in U.S. capacity, Chevron says. The facility can be expanded to produce 100 million gal. Dana Flanders, president of Chevron Technology Ventures, says the biodiesel industry in North America is at an early stage of development typified by small plants. "This is an opportunity to engage in one of the first large-scale biodiesel production operations," Flanders says. In Europe, Ineos Enterprises says it intends to make a "significant strategic investment" in the U.K. biofuels sector through the construction of a biodiesel plant in Grangemouth, Scotland, by 2008. Ineos already produces biodiesel in Baleycourt, France, and is in the process of doubling capacity to about 70 million gal per year.


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