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THE NEW YORK TIMES: Biodiesel Industry Gets Boost From Big Oil

DALLAS (AP) — The tiny biodiesel industry received a boost from Big Oil on Monday when a major petroleum refiner, Motiva Enterprises LLC, began blending the soy-based alternative with traditional motor fuel at a Dallas terminal.
Biodiesel supporters say the impact is more than symbolic. Earth Biofuels CEO Dennis McLaughlin, one of the partners in the $120,000 pilot program, said Motiva's name lends credibility to biodiesel.
Biodiesel is not raw vegetable oil. It is a biodegradeable and nontoxic soybean derivative, and can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel.
The amount of biodiesel sold in the U.S. has grown from 500,000 gallons in 1999 to roughly 75 million gallons in 2005. By comparison, the U.S. burns roughly 140 billion gallons of gasoline each year and 4 billion gallons of ethanol, a fuel additive derived from corn.
Biodiesel advocates say terminal blending is a critical step in bringing the fuel to more drivers.
''Frankly, a behemoth step,'' said Paul Nazzaro, the National Biodiesel Board's petroleum liaison.
Motiva, a partnership between Shell Oil Co. and Saudi Refining Inc., is among the first major oil companies to provide a blending and loading terminal for the alternative fuel, which can be burned in diesel engines without modification, Nazzaro said. Other refiners who already blend biodiesel at the terminal level include Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., according to National Biodiesel Board spokeswoman Jenna Higgins.
The soy derivative is mostly sold in a blend called B20, which is 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent diesel. It is available at about 600 pumps nationwide, according to the National Biodiesel Board, and sales tripled last year.
Willie Nelson, who developed the BioWillie brand of biodiesel for truckers, was joined by actor Morgan Freeman to announce the installation of a 30,000-gallon heated tank that will allow biodiesel to be loaded onto tanker trucks already fully blended with petroleum diesel. Blending at the terminal level reduces costs associated with ''splash'' blending inside trucks and provides a more consistent blend of the fuel.
Nelson and Freeman are both on the board of directors of Earth Biofuels, which produces biodiesel and is the exclusive diestributor of BioWillie.
Motiva said it has no immediate plans to provide blending at other terminals, said Dan Grinstead, general manager of commercial sales and distribution.
Grinstead said the program allows Motiva to build business relationships with biodiesel distributors and customers.
Houston-based Motiva refines, distributes, and markets oil products in the eastern and southern United States. The company refines and markets gasoline to about 8,900 Shell and Texaco gas stations.
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One Comment

  1. wepayhalf says:

    Many say we will see $3.50/gal this summer. If you factor in Iran, who knows how high it could go. Everyone knows America MUST get off the oil. After September 11, 2001 I expected our President to call on Americans to GET OFF THE OIL. I was expecting a speech like the one JFK gave that motivated us to reach for the moon. As you know, this never happened. Eventually I realized that the only way this is going to happen is for us to do it ourselves. To that end I created this idea and have been trying to make it a reality..
    The EPA is offering a research grant opportunity that I believe is a perfect fit for this idea. I have sent an e-mail to a hand picked list of university professors who have experience with government research projects. I’m looking to form a research team to apply for the EPA grant, conduct a social-economic experiment and surveys to determine to what extent the American public will support it, project the economic potential of WPH, and identify logistical, social and political obstacles as well as opportunities.
    All government grants are awarded based on merit of the proposed research. I believe WPH has merit but your help is needed to verify it. You can help by posting your feedback. Let the professors and the EPA know what you think about WPH. Do you think this idea is worth pursuing? We need to know if Americans will support a plan like this.
    Do you have any ideas to improve the plan?
    Share any and all of your thoughts.
    Tell your friends and family about this Blog post and ask them to post their thoughts on WPH
    Thank you