D1 Oils is creating 30 jobs as it increases production to 72,000 tonnes by the end of the year. The group, which recently opened its global headquarters in Middlesbrough, has built four environmentally-friendly refineries, the first of which is now running at full capacity.
As D1 moved the fourth refinery on-site yesterday, chairman Karl Watkin told shareholders at D1’s annual meeting that another five refineries with a capacity of 8,000 tonnes a year would be installed at Middlesbrough by the end of the year.
The company also has plans to install several clusters of four or five refineries around the country. By the end of next year, it expects production to exceed 220,000 tonnes a year by 2010, which will be about a quarter of the UK’s biodiesel demand.
Mr Watkin said: “Our combination refineries can produce biodiesel on terms which are competitive with larger plants. In addition, our refineries can be ordered, installed and made operational in a significantly shorter time frame, and at lower risk and lower cost than larger plants, enabling refinery operators to generate revenue more quickly.”
Fellow green fuels company the Biofuels Corporation, which has built one of Europe’s largest biodiesel plants, on Teesside, with a capacity of 250,000 tonnes a year, has been beset by problems and delays in bringing the plant online.
D1’s smaller refineries have been installed and brought online in a matter of weeks.
Mr Watkin yesterday reaffirmed D1’s ambition to become a global leader in biodiesel. The company has planted or has rights to 42,000 hectares of jatropha, a South American weed used in herbal medicine that can grow in poor soil, which means that D1’s plantations are not using food-growing land in the developing world. When the jatropha seed is crushed, it produces oil that can then be refined into biodiesel.
Earlier this month, Mr Watkin addressed 150 government ministers and business leaders at the United Nations in New York, calling on it to encourage more use of biofuels worldwide.
The North-East entrepreneur challenged UN agencies to channel more resources into global biofuels production, particularly in developing countries. He said D1’s agreements on land in the developing world had created more than 10,000 jobs, adding: “Think how many more jobs would be created if the UN helped countries to focus their resources and make more non-prime land available for planting and provide financial support to plant energy crops.
Source: The Northern Echo May 26, 2006.