Empirical Acquisition

Why one oil company sees profit in a California cooperative
By Bryan Sims | November 21, 2011

Sometimes for small-scale biodiesel producers, the best way to expand or augment sales of their biodiesel is to align with major oil and gas companies. This is exactly what Promethean Biofuels Co-op Corp., a 1.2 MMgy multifeedstock facility located in Temecula, Calif., did when it was acquired by Canada-based oil and gas company Empire Oil Refineries Corp. As a result, Promethean became a wholly-owned subsidiary of EOR. According to EOR spokesman Rick Wilson, the company engaged Promethean six or eight months ago. “We really liked the facility,” he says.

Promethean’s 17,000-square-foot plant, which started up in February 2010, is located adjacent to a community recycling facility where it collects the majority of its waste vegetable oil feedstock for processing into biodiesel.

While Promethean Biofuels also distributes its own biodiesel produced at the Temecula facility, as part of the acquisition, EOR intends to offer expertise on the sales side that could augment its customer base for capturing more of the market, Wilson says. “We’ll bring in our management team, not to run their business, but to look at the business that they’re capturing and work more on sales-oriented ventures to get more product to refine,” he says.

EOR is relatively new to the renewable energy sector, having formed its Clean Fuels Division in September, which will initially focus on the development and funding of clean energy production, namely farm-based manure-to-electricity projects. Seeing growth in the biodiesel industry, Wilson adds EOR is looking at acquiring additional plants. “We’re really looking at expanding that side of the business big time,” Wilson says. “It’s a huge future for us.”

—Bryan Sims

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