Port of Antwerp receives major biodiesel and bioproducts investment - model of global bioenergy trade strengthened
Earlier we reported on how the EU's busiest logistical and petrochemical zones are preparing to become one big 'bio-hub' that will import bioenergy feedstocks from across the world, transform them into biofuels and green specialty products and distribute them across Europe or export them to other markets. The Low Countries, with the Port of Antwerp and the Port of Rotterdam are building bio-terminals that attract major investments from biodiesel, ethanol, bioproducts and bioenergy producers. Together with the Ghent Bioenergy Valley and the Eemshaven harbor, this zone is connected smoothly to all of Europe's major countries via an extensive infrastructure (earlier post).
The Port of Antwerp now has received another major investment from Ineos Enterprises who will build a €90/US$118 million biodiesel facility at a site in Zwijndrecht. The investment forms part of the company's strategy to deliver significant growth and become the premier supplier of biodiesel across Europe. The plant, which is to be operational by early 2009, is one of Europe's largest, with a capacity of 500,000 tonnes per annum.
The Ineos site in Antwerp is operated by Ineos Oxide and is positioned at the heart of Europe’s largest petrochemical centre with close proximity to raw materials via sea, road and rail and to Europe’s prime customer base via pipeline, sea, inland waterway, rail and road transportation networks. The Antwerp site also has its own dedicated jetty, along with a state of the art cogeneration unit supplying electricity and steam. The Port is also the main hub of the Western European pipeline network
The Antwerp site is core to our strategy and will be the centre from where we will lead our growth in biodiesel across the Continent. Our aim is to become the first truly pan-European supplier of biodiesel, the first part of which will be to achieve at least 2 million tonnes of biodiesel output by 2012. Our choice in Antwerp reflects our strategy to invest in new production facilities located at the very heart of key demand centres. The existing Ineos operations within these centres will provide us with cost effective infrastructure, excellent logistics, a ready-made and fully integrated customer base and access to some of Europe’s very best transport networks. - INEOS Enterprises CEO Harry DeansThe investment is important because it confirms the idea that -- besides locally rooted, small biofuels industries servicing local communities -- the future of bioenergy will be one driven by a model of global exchanges and trades - imports and exports of raw materials such as solid biomass (wood chips, pellets, briquettes), heavy bio-oils (pyrolysis oil), plant oils (for biodiesel), sugar, starch and cellulose rich biomass (for ethanol):
ethanol :: biodiesel :: biomass :: bioenergy :: biofuels :: energy :: sustainability :: bioterminal :: logistics :: bioenergy trade :: green chemistry :: Rotterdam :: Antwerp :: Belgium ::
The development of such a model is crucial if the Global South wants to benefit from the bioenergy opportunity. Brazil is trying to establish such a model that will benefit its own ethanol expansion, whereas Indonesia and Malaysia are working on a similar export-model driven by palm oil. The Northern European 'bio-hub', which is fusing petrochemical and green chemistry sectors, now strengthens these developments.
Ineos adds that the investment will also lead to the introduction of new technologies to treat glycerine - the major by-product of biodiesel production. In parallel to this investment by Ineos, a third party investment in a new vegetable oil extraction facility is also being planned in the vicinity, bringing about further synergies, and leading to the creation of a regional 'bio-hub'.
Comments Dirk Gekiere, Site Director: “The INEOS operations at Antwerp are vital to the future growth of the Port of Antwerp. We have a very experienced, highly skilled team in Belgium that has an excellent track record of delivering major investments at Antwerp. In recent years INEOS has been involved in more than €650 million worth of investment at the site, and this new investment in biodiesel at Antwerp would provide our sister company INEOS Enterprises with an excellent supply point for Northwest Europe, and with excellent customer/supplier synergies with the adjacent refining operations.”
The INEOS Enterprises investment is receiving strong support in the region, recognising the importance of the project to the future development of the Port of Antwerp. Eddy Bruyninckx, CEO of the Antwerp Port Authority comments: “We greatly appreciate INEOS’ interests in establishing this major biodiesel facility in the Port of Antwerp, thereby taking advantage of the port’s logistical platform and the possible synergies with the existing industry. This investment matches the vision we have on the future of the Antwerp Chemical Cluster and we see this as a very important first step in the development of a bio-based chemical industry in the region.”
INEOS Enterprises has more than 10 years experience in the biodiesel sector. The Company has already successfully secured government support for its existing biodiesel plant at Baleycourt, which is currently undergoing a €70 million expansion to double output by 2008. INEOS Enterprises also recently secured grant funding in the UK from the Scottish Executive towards the cost of a €90 million biodiesel unit, which will be at least 500,000tes, to be built at the INEOS manufacturing site at Grangemouth, Scotland.
Andy Currie, Director of INEOS Capital and Chairman of INEOS Enterprises comments: “As part of the world’s fastest growing chemicals company, INEOS Enterprises is extremely well placed to make these investments and has an excellent track record of pursuing market opportunities and developing world class businesses.
“INEOS is well skilled in commissioning and operating low cost, high yield commodity plants and has the size and scale that is essential for success in this business. By building on the ready made synergies with our existing European refining operations, coupled with our existing client base and market contacts, we firmly believe that we have the competitive edge and can develop into Europe’s premier biodiesel company.”
Concludes Mr Deans: “We firmly believe that the size and scale of our investment, combined with the strengths of INEOS and the excellent strategic location we have at Antwerp site makes INEOS Enterprises the most appropriate candidate for obtaining Belgium quota for biodiesel.
“We very much look forward to working in partnership with the Belgian government and Belgian feedstock suppliers to bring this major investment to fruition.”