Gull swoops into biofuels market

INDEPENDENT fuel retailer Gull Petroleum entered the biofuels sector yesterday as the first company to offer biodiesel-blended fuel to Western Australian motorists and announced plans to build an $18 million biodiesel plant next to its fuel import and storage facility in Kwinana.
Gull swoops into biofuels market Gull swoops into biofuels market Gull swoops into biofuels market Gull swoops into biofuels market Gull swoops into biofuels market

Gull launched its Bio-D product, a 20% biodiesel blend, at nine of its 80 WA sites. Six of the sites offering the blended biodiesel are in the metropolitan area.

WA Agriculture Minister Kim Chance, who recently established the WA Biofuels Taskforce, said he welcomed Gull's leadership in making biofuels available to the WA public.

"The State Government is committed to advancing science and innovation, as well as enhancing Western Australia's unique environment," Chance said.

"Gull's initiative supports both of these key priorities and provides the opportunity for diesel users in WA to embrace the concept of biodiesel, which is very much the fuel for the future."

However, Gull may expect the State Government to support its Bio-D efforts in a more tangible manner.

"We believe that there will be a very strong demand for this product," Gull chief executive Wayne Ferrell said yesterday.

"Governments in particular should be big users of biofuels and encourage others to be users of cleaner fuels.

"They can set an example through the use of biodiesel in government vehicle fleets, on public transport buses and marine fleets, which includes ferries."

As a biodegradable fuel, biodiesel is ideal for marine industries, according to Gull.

Ferrell said the decision to produce and distribute biodiesel in WA was a continuation of the independent retailer's commitment to innovation, noting that Gull had also shown leadership in the adoption of low-sulphur fuels, years ahead of the mandated deadline.

Ferrell said Gull expected to begin construction of the new Kwinana biodiesel plant in May 2006, with production and sales of biodiesel from the plant scheduled to begin in early 2007.

Gull's decision to build a biodiesel plant in WA follows its involvement with the privately owned Ecotech Biodiesel plant in Narangba, Queensland, just north of Brisbane.

Ecotech Biodiesel plant manager Ulrik Olsen told EMN that the Narangba plant had a production capacity of 30-35 million litres of biodiesel per annum.

Olsen said he could confirm that Gull Petroleum had a large stake in the plant, but was unable to reveal other project investors, other than Brisbane-based EcoTech Holdings, which also has interests in waste-to-energy technologies.

Gull said biodiesel offers many environmental advantages compared to regular diesel, including low-sulphur emissions, approximately 35% less carbon dioxide, and low particulate emissions, with roughly the same amount of nitrous oxide.

Meanwhile, various media reports today quote Gull New Zealand country manager Geoff Gillott as saying the company is aiming to have a B5 blend available at its 30 North Island service stations by the middle of this year.

The bio-diesel would initially be imported from Australia, but Gull NZ is investigating options for a bio-diesel or bio-ethanol manufacturing facility in New Zealand.

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