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    The 16th European Biomass Conference & Exhibition - From Research to Industry and Markets - will be held from 2nd to 6th June 2008, at the Convention and Exhibition Centre of FeriaValencia, Spain. Early bird fee registration ends 18th April 2008. European Biomass Conference & Exhibition - February 22, 2007.

    'Obesity Facts' – a new multidisciplinary journal for research and therapy published by Karger – was launched today as the official journal of the European Association for the Study of Obesity. The journal publishes articles covering all aspects of obesity, in particular epidemiology, etiology and pathogenesis, treatment, and the prevention of adiposity. As obesity is related to many disease processes, the journal is also dedicated to all topics pertaining to comorbidity and covers psychological and sociocultural aspects as well as influences of nutrition and exercise on body weight. Obesity is one of the world's most pressing health issues, expected to affect 700 million people by 2015. AlphaGalileo - February 21, 2007.

    A bioethanol plant with a capacity of 150 thousand tons per annum is to be constructed in Kuybishev, in the Novosibirsk region. Construction is to begin in 2009 with investments into the project estimated at €200 million. A 'wet' method of production will be used to make, in addition to bioethanol, gluten, fodder yeast and carbon dioxide for industrial use. The complex was developed by the Solev consulting company. FIS: Siberia - February 19, 2007.

    Sarnia-Lambton lands a $15million federal grant for biofuel innovation at the Western Ontario Research and Development Park. The funds come on top of a $10 million provincial grant. The "Bioindustrial Innovation Centre" project competed successfully against 110 other proposals for new research money. London Free Press - February 18, 2007.

    An organisation that has established a large Pongamia pinnata plantation on barren land owned by small & marginal farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India is looking for a biogas and CHP consultant to help research the use of de-oiled cake for the production of biogas. The organisation plans to set up a biogas plant of 20,000 cubic meter capacity and wants to use it for power generation. Contact us - February 15, 2007.

    The Andersons, Inc. and Marathon Oil Corporation today jointly announced ethanol production has begun at their 110-million gallon ethanol plant located in Greenville, Ohio. Along with the 110 million gallons of ethanol, the plant annually will produce 350,000 tons of distillers dried grains, an animal feed ingredient. Marathon Oil - February 14, 2007.

    Austrian bioenergy group Cycleenergy acquired controlling interest in Greenpower Projektentwicklungs GmbH, expanding its biomass operational portfolio by 16 MW to a total of 22 MW. In the transaction Cycleenergy took over 51% of the company and thereby formed a joint venture with Porr Infrastruktur GmbH, a subsidiary of Austrian construction company Porr AG. Greenpower operates two wood chip CHP facilities in Upper and Lower Austria, each with an electric capacity of 2 MW. The plants have been in operation since the middle of last year and consume more than 30,000 tonnes of wood chips and are expected to generate over €5 million in additional revenue. Cycleenergy - February 6, 2007.

    The 2008 edition of Bioenergy World Europe will take place in Verona, Italy, from 7 to 10 February. Gathering a broad range of international exhibitors covering gaseous, liquid and solid bioenergy, the event aims to offer participants the possibility of developing their business through meetings with professionals, thematic study tours and an international forum focusing on market and regulatory issues, as well as industry expertise. Bioenergy World Europe - February 5, 2007.

    The World GTL Summit will take place between 12 – 14th May 2008 in London. Key topics to be discussed include: the true value of Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) projects, well-to-wheels analyses of the GTL value chain; construction, logistics and procurement challenges; the future for small-scale Fischer-Tropsch (FT) projects; Technology, economics, politics and logistics of Coal-to-Liquids (CTL); latest Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL) commercialisation initiatives. CWC Exhibitions - February 4, 2007.

    The 4th Annual Brussels Climate Change Conference is announced for 26 - 27 February 2008. This joint CEPS/Epsilon conference will explore the key issues for a post-Kyoto agreement on climate change. The conference focuses on EU and global issues relating to global warming, and in particular looks at the following issues: - Post-2012 after Bali and before the Hokkaido G8 summit; Progress of EU integrated energy and climate package, burden-sharing renewables and technology; EU Emissions Trading Review with a focus on investment; Transport Climatepolicy.eu - January 28, 2007.

    Japan's Marubeni Corp. plans to begin importing a bioethanol compound from Brazil for use in biogasoline sold by petroleum wholesalers in Japan. The trading firm will import ETBE, which is synthesized from petroleum products and ethanol derived from sugar cane. The compound will be purchased from Brazilian petrochemical company Companhia Petroquimica do Sul and in February, Marubeni will supply 6,500 kilolitres of the ETBE, worth around US$7 million, to a biogasoline group made up of petroleum wholesalers. Wholesalers have been introducing biofuels since last April by mixing 7 per cent ETBE into gasoline. Plans call for 840 million liters of ETBE to be procured annually from domestic and foreign suppliers by 2010. Trading Markets - January 24, 2007.

    Toyota Tsusho Corp., Ohta Oil Mill Co. and Toyota Chemical Engineering Co., say it and two other firms have jointly developed a technology to produce biodiesel fuel at lower cost. Biodiesel is made by blending methanol into plant-derived oil. The new technology requires smaller amounts of methanol and alkali catalysts than conventional technologies. In addition, the new technology makes water removal facilities unnecessary. JCN Network - January 22, 2007.

    Finland's Metso Paper and SWISS COMBI - W. Kunz dryTec A.G. have entered a licence agreement for the SWISS COMBI belt dryer KUVO, which allows biomass to be dried in a low temperature environment and at high capacity, both for pulp & paper and bioenergy applications. Kauppalehti - January 22, 2007.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Sugarcane ethanol exports double Jamaica Broilers Group revenues

An interesting case of the profitability of efficient biofuel production comes from the Jamaica Broilers Group, which we have been tracking over the past year. The group announced revenues were fuelled by ethanol, whose sales of $1.8 billion in the quarter ended January 5, 2008 and boosted the poultry company's turnover to $5.2 billion, or just about double the $2.8 billion earned in the comparative period a year ago. The group's subsidiary JB Ethanol built an exported oriented fuel-grade ethanol plant that became operational in July 2007. The group also invested in a $120 million cogeneration plant.

The ethanol facility, which has the U.S. as the principal market for its ethanol products:
  • Possesses a production capacity of 60 million gallons per year of Fuel Grade Ethanol;
  • Has a storage capacity of 14 million gallons, following the erection of storage tanks for raw material (hydrous ethanol) and finished product (anhydrous ethanol);
  • Can process locally-produced hydrous ethanol from Jamaican sugar cane – thereby providing an outlet for this product and directly supporting the privatization strategy of Jamaican Sugar assets;
  • Utilized the expertise of several major international firms to help make the plant a reality – including Dedini, a leading Brazilian company, which supplied the Dehydration Plant and Equipment, Chicago Bridge and Iron Works, a major tank construction company in the USA, which supplied and installed the tanks; Bauche Energy of Brazil, which provides an on-going supply of the critical raw materials needed to make the Jamaican plant profitable
Ethanol exports boosted sales by Jamaica's top poultry producer by $2.4 billion, or more than 88 per cent. The company produces a highly efficient biofuel from sugarcane. According to a statement by chairman R. Danny Williams and CEO Robert Levy "anhydrous ethanol market prices have rebounded since December 2007 and this is expected to impact positively our fourth quarter consolidated results."

United States traded ethanol, the market to which JB Ethanol sells its output, is now selling above US$2.20 gallon on front month contracts, up from US$1.75 at yearend. The substantial growth in group revenues led to boosted profit numbers:
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

But Broilers also faced heavier than normal expenses to eke out those results - raw material and production costs, or cost of sales, more than doubled from $2.1 billion to $4.4 billion year over year or close to 110 per cent - leading to a decline in profit margins in the current period.

Operating profit, for example, rose $86 million to $307 million, but measured against revenues the margin fell from eight per cent in the 2007 period to six per cent. Net profit was also $32 million improved in the quarter, but again the margin was lower at four per cent, down from six per cent in the January 2007 period.

The company's nine month results also ran a similar track, but with one difference: bottom line income fell over the period. Revenues gained almost $4 billion to end the period at $12.3 billion, but cost of sales also doubled to $10.4 billion.

The St Catherine company's poultry operation remained its cash cow, accounting for $5.3 billion of sales, and will likely be boosted higher in the fourth quarter ending April following a price hike on chicken meat announced by the group this week.

Ethanol's turnover was $3.1 billion.

But rising production costs allowed Broilers only a slight gain in gross profit of $1.9 billion for the group (9-month 2007: $1.86 billion). Operating profit for the group also rose from $496 million to $670 million, though the newly added ethanol segment joined the problematic fish business as a drag on earnings. Fish losses were $19.9 million this period, while startup ethanol lost $7.16 million.

Still, feed and farm supplies as well as the flagship poultry segment were sufficient to spike operating income above year ago levels.

The reversal in fortunes began to manifest at the pretax profit line - which was weighed down by a more than seven-fold increase in debt serving costs - which dropped from $457 million a year ago to $377 million in the review period. At the bottom line, nine-month net profit slid from $354.5 million to $277.4 million, or from 29 cents per share to 23 cents per share.

The company said its financing charges of $292.6 million were linked to the servicing of increased foreign and local currency loans that were acquired "to meet increasing working capital needs." JB's balance sheet shows a quadrupling of its debt from $231 million at financial year end April 2007 to $933 million in January, reflecting the higher leverage. Compared to a year ago, Broilers' long-term liabilities have grown six-fold.

Jamaica Broilers Group: Annual Report for the Financial Year 2007 [*.pdf] - February 2008.


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