'Gutter oil' jet fuel venture in works

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 November, 2011, 12:00am


A Dutch jet-fuel supplier has agreed to buy 20 tonnes of 'gutter oil' from Qingdao, Shandong province, through a joint venture to produce a sustainable supply of fuel for its airline clients, mainland media said yesterday.

Hayo deFeiiter, a representative of Chinese-Dutch joint venture Beijing Trihelix, was in talks with Zheng Dehua, deputy chairman of Qingdao Fresh Bio-Energy Technology Development, about the firm's deal for reprocessed 'gutter' cooking oil from restaurants in the port city, according to the city's Bandao Metropolis News.

It said deFeiiter's trip to Qingdao focused on sourcing raw materials for SkyNRG, a Netherlands-based jet-fuel supplier that provides jet fuel to many European carriers, including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

In June, a KLM jet flew from Amsterdam to Paris on gutter-oil-based fuel supplied by SkyNRG, becoming the first carrier to do so in Europe.

A Qingdao Fresh Bio-Energy employee said yesterday that deFeiiter was interested in her company's gutter oil just because of its reasonable price.

'What deFeiiter is going to buy is not the so-called gutter oil that the public knows but biofuels that our company refines from cooking oil,' she said, adding that the firm's biofuels were in broad use in vehicles and vessels on the mainland.

'Prices for our biofuels are lower than [the equivalent] fossil fuels.'

One tonne of petroleum costs about 8,500 yuan (HK$10,400) on the mainland market, while the same amount of the company's biofuel cost 7,500 yuan, Zheng told the Dazhong website based in Jinan .

The Dazhong report said deFeiiter suggested that the Netherlands needed about 120,000 tonnes of jet biofuel each year but it was impossible to source the volumes of recycled cooking oil needed for the industry in that country, where the population is less than 17 million.

DeFeiiter was quoted as saying that China, with its 1.3 billion people and countless restaurants, could be a cheap viable source of the raw material. The Dutch buyer said he was willing to work with Chinese companies to meet future demands, and Zheng offered him a 'reasonable price' for long-term co-operation, according to the report.

Apart from expanding the company's export business, Zheng said he was most interested in securing technical support from SkyNRG to help the Qingdao firm improve its products, the report said.

Peter Lok Kung-nam, former Hong Kong director of civil aviation, said biofuels would become more common in aviation because airlines flying to Europe would need to pay a carbon tax on fossil-fuel use from next year under the European Union's new scheme to reduce carbon emissions.

'Airlines won't be able to use biofuels to cut costs ... but biofuels will mean airlines won't have to pay the extra carbon tax if they are flying to Europe,' Lok said.

He also said many mainland carriers had started to use a 50-50 mix of biofuel and fossil fuel for their jets.