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4th April 2005 - Commercial production at the UK’s first large scale biodiesel plant has now started. The first tanker-load of the clean, green road fuel, made from used cooking oil and tallow, has been picked up from the Argent Energy plant at Motherwell, in Scotland by Petroplus and will shortly be available at forecourts. The news has been welcomed by Prime Minister, Tony Blair, by Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, and by the Scottish Executive’s Minister for Enterprise, Jim Wallace.

The load is part of a contract between Argent Energy and Petroplus which could see up to 25,000 tonnes of biodiesel a year making its way to refineries in Grangemouth and in Teesside. There it will be blended with mineral diesel. The resultant blend of 95 per cent mineral diesel to 5 per cent biodiesel will be marketed under the Bio-plus brand on filling station forecourts. It requires no changes to the logistics of the fuel supply chain or to vehicle engines.

Hamish Curran, chief operating officer at Argent Energy, said: “Producing biodiesel from these raw materials at this scale has never been done before. We’ve worked very hard to get this project off the drawing board and turn it into commercial reality. The highest standards of corporate rigour ensure that we operate sophisticated quality, safety and environmental management systems and our biodiesel meets the European quality standard.

“We are now focussed on getting the plant up to full production capacity and expect this to happen within the next few weeks. We are also developing plans for expansion and looking at the possibility of setting up at least two more plants in other parts of the UK.”

Dr Stephen Thomason, marketing director of Petroplus said: “We are delighted that this new source of supply has come on stream allowing us to extend the availability of Bio-plus. It has been subjected to extensive independent testing and the results show that it’s good for engines and for the environment. It improves engine lubrication, improves fuel efficiency, it burns more completely thereby reducing emissions and it’s virtually sulphur free. Above all biodiesel reduces carbon dioxide – the main gas responsible for global warming.”

An additional environmental benefit is that the use of used cooking oil and tallow in producing the biodiesel creates a demand for previously unwanted products thereby reducing the amount which has to be treated as waste and ultimately reducing pollution.

Welcoming the news that production of the green fuel in the UK has started, a spokesman for number 10 Downing Street said: “The Prime Minister has frequently stressed his personal commitment to combating global warming and has made climate change one of his two priorities for the UK’s presidency of the G8. Biofuels and biocrops have a potentially important role to play, and the Prime Minister is very glad to see production and marketing of these environmentally-friendly fuels taking place in the United Kingdom”.

Alastair Darling, Secretary of State for Transport, said: “I am delighted that production of high quality biodiesel has now started at the Argent plant. This is an excellent example of a positive initiative which will bring real benefits to the environment and to the local economy. The Government is keen to support the development of renewable, low carbon transport fuels, and all the more so where these are produced in the UK, bringing benefits to the UK economy."

Jim Wallace, the Scottish Executive’s Minister for Enterprise also welcomed the development, commenting: “I visited Argent's plant at Motherwell last year and am now delighted that this ambitious project is now underway.

"Scotland has the potential to become a world leader in the new 'green' economy of the future, and to create jobs across a range of sectors, including recycling, renewable energy and the development and manufacture of cleaner technologies. Argent is an excellent example of what we mean by 'green jobs' with its product having the potential to deliver significant environmental and economic benefits.

"I will be launching the Executive's Green Jobs Strategy before the summer and hope that other Scottish firms will join Argent in grasping these exciting opportunities."

-Ends-
Notes for editors:
1. Photographs of a Bioplus tanker leaving the Argent Energy plant are available by contacting Financial Dynamics (see below).
2. Argent Energy’s biodiesel plant is the result of a £15 million investment and has attracted £1.2 million in Regional Selective Assistance.
3. The plant will be capable of producing 50 million litres of biodiesel per year.
4. It is being produced to BS EN 14214 – the European standard for biodiesel.
5. Biodiesel is currently available at over 100 filling stations in the UK. Sales of biodiesel are approximately 1.8 million litres per month compared to total diesel sales of roughly 1700 million l/month. So biodiesel currently makes up less than 0.1 per cent of total diesel sales and less than 0.05 per cent of total combined gasoline and diesel sales. Argent will supply around 4.2 million litres per month from April 2005 when the plant is fully operational.
6. Under a European Union-funded research programme, the manufacture of biodiesel from tallow and used cooking oil in the Argent energy plant and its subsequent use as a road fuel has been assessed by the Technical University of Graz for its environmental impact. The study showed that it’s much more environmentally-friendly than both mineral diesel and biodiesel produced from other raw materials, eg rapeseed oil. Argent Energy’s Motherwell plant will displace around 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

Information contacts:
· For Argent Energy: Edward Taylor/Andy Field, Financial Dynamics,
t: 0207 2697295/241, edward.taylor@fd.com, andy.field@fd.com
· For Petroplus: Terry Waldron, t: 01642 212385, e: terry.waldron@sembutilities.co.uk

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