Forget the tiger in your tank - Saudis harness seed power by Terry Macalister of The Guardian, London Wednesday February 16, 2005
A British company is to develop a seed-based car fuel in Saudi Arabia.
D1 Oils, which recently floated on the London stock market, has signed a 50-50 joint venture with a Saudi firm to create biodiesel for the world's biggest crude oil exporter.
The new fuel is to be produced from plantations of jatropha trees on land that used to be desert. The black seeds from conker-type shells produced by the plants will be picked and fed into special refineries to be built in Saudi Arabia.
The resulting fuel will either be used locally or mixed with crude oil and shipped to Europe to feed a growing demand for more environmentally friendly petrol.
"This venture will develop new industries in Saudi Arabia, which will, in turn, provide sources for new jobs and environmentally directed applications," said Sheikh Soued al-Blaihead, the chairman of D1's Saudi partner, Jazeera For Modern Technology.
"Helping to deliver a renewable energy solution to the world's most recognised petroleum-based economy is a huge achievement for our business," said the chairman of D1 Oils, Karl Watkins.
D1, which listed on the Alternative Investment Market in October, has built a biodiesel refinery at Nateby, near Preston.
It is already proceeding with other foreign schemes. At Chennai in India, D1 and partner Mohan Breweries are to plant jatropha trees on 100,000 hectares of land.
The British company also has a joint venture with Chuan Technology in Chengdu to develop a jatropha-based fuel for the Chinese market.
Jatropha is a better source of fuel than other plants such as rape or soya because it can grow in harsh environments and does not need arable land, according to D1. As the seed is inedible, it can be irrigated by treated sewage or other waste water.
Jazeera is to provide 5,000 hectares of land in Saudi with a further 100,000 earmarked for development if all goes well. Most of the initial investment of up to $10m (£5.3m) will come from Jazeera.
Ordinary cars can run on a small percentage of biodiesel mixed with fossil-based fuel. It is possible for vehicles to be developed that can run on 100% biodiesel.
D1 listed at 160p a share and was up 13p last night to end the day at 223.5p, partly on the back of planned expansion in India.