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Seal Sands plant back in operation.


TEESSIDE's only biodiesel plant - once the largest in Europe - is back in business again.

The former Biofuels Corporation plant at Seal Sands, which closed when the company ceased trading after three years in November, is now being operated by fuel distributor Harvest Energy to process waste oil.

Biofuels Corporation was forced to shed its 38 staff, after opting for a creditors voluntary arrangement with KPMG to manage around pounds 100m of debt.

Current site owners Simon Storage -one of Europe''s largest independent bulk liquid and gas infrastructure and services companies - looked after the site in the interim.

Richard Sammons, chief executive of Surrey-based Simon Storage, said a number of' former Biofuels Corporation employees succeeded in regaining their jobs under the new operator. "We tried to protect the plant when Biofuels Corporation went into administration until it found a new home and we're delighted to see it back in business. It preserves investment and creates jobs and product movement in the area. The continued existence of this plant is a valuable contribution to Teesside."

The plant will be used to produce biodiesel from either vegetable oil or used cooking oil.

Former Biofuels Corporation chief executive, Richard Nickels, who was actively involved in securing Harvest Energy for the Seal Sands plant but is no longer involved with the site, said his company never properly recovered from unfair competition thrust upon the industry from US government subsidised biodiesel that was dumped into Europe.

"The industry continues to be under stress," he said, "it was given an unfair start with the US subsidies and the UK and Europe allowed it to happen. This isn't healthy competition, it's about being out-competed and needs to be stopped. The Government needs to be protective of fledgling industries like biofuels.

"There will always be subsidies in the world, the industry isn't asking for money from Government, merely a level playing field. Mandated demand for biofuel is also growing, but supply has taken a real knock." He said the Seal Sands plant remains "one of the best in the world and has a good future".

"It's in the best hands it could be with Harvest Energy," he added. "Teesside has great location advantages because of its deepwater access and labour advantages in speciality chemicals from the ICI legacy. The industry still has a long way to go, but it can only go from strength to strength because of the importance of what it's doing."


TAKEN OVER: Harvest Energy has now taken over the former Biofuels Corporation plant at Seal Sands to process waste oil
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jul 16, 2010
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