Countrymark Co-op moves B5 through private pipeline

By | September 01, 2006
An event that industry officials called "significant" occurred quietly in late July. Countrymark Co-op, a petroleum refining and marketing company, successfully moved B5 through the company's private carrier pipeline system.

This is the first time a company has announced moving B5 through a pipeline that carries gas, diesel and heating oil, according to Steve Howell, National Biodiesel Board (NBB) technical director. The NBB considers it a win for everyone. "This represents the next step toward full integration of biodiesel into the nation's transport system," he said. "It will make biodiesel more cost effective, since pipeline transfer is the most effective way to transport fuel."

A total of 210,000 gallons of B5 traveled through the 238-mile pipeline for 72 hours, according to Dennis Reynolds, manager of pipeline and terminals for Countrymark. The pipeline runs from the company's Mount Vernon, Ind., refining complex to a central Indiana terminal.

Currently, Countrymark transports its biodiesel by truckload. If the company could receive larger volumes of biodiesel at its refining facility-by rail or barge-and transport it through the pipeline, it will help reduce transportation costs, Reynolds told Biodiesel Magazine.

The company has a continuing commitment to distribute biodiesel. Part of that commitment is making sure the biofuel is integrated into the liquid fuel distribution system, including its pipeline, said Jon Lantz, vice president of supply and marketing for Countrymark. For now, though, the company will go back to transporting biodiesel by truckload. "At this point in time, it was a one-time thing as we're evaluating our options to distribute biodiesel in our system," he told Biodiesel Magazine.

Reynolds also talked about Countrymark's commitment to transporting homegrown biofuels. As the biofuels industry grows, the company wants to be prepared to handle that growth in an efficient and economic way. "We want to be a leader in Indiana and the surrounding area, the market we serve," Reynolds said.

Countrymark had every confidence that the trial run of B5 through the pipeline would go well. However, the company wanted to make sure there were no adverse effects to either the B5 or the fuel coming down the pipeline after it. Samples were pulled from the load before and after the B5 entered the pipeline. In-house testing confirmed that the company was able to maintain fuel quality. "At this point, we feel it's a success from our end," Reynolds said. "We are waiting on independent lab tests to back this up."
Analysis from the independent lab will demonstrate whether fuel and transportation specifications were met, Lantz said. One of the things the lab will examine is if there is any "trail back," or biodiesel residue, left in the pipe. "We don't anticipate any issues," he said.

Countrymark, a farmer-owned co-op, has been distributing biodiesel through its terminals for four years. The company operates Indiana's only 100 percent American-owned refinery, which is supplied by 100 percent American crude oil from the Illinois Oil Basin.

Transporting B5 through its pipeline isn't the company's only biofuels feat, Lantz said. In 2004, the company was the first to use rack injection, a computer-controlled system, to blend biodiesel with diesel as it was loaded into a truck. This system accurately and efficiently creates B2, B5 or B20 blends, depending on what the customer wants, Lantz said.
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