Former BP exec to lead Sapphire Energy

By Ryan C. Christiansen | January 01, 2009
Web exclusive posted Dec. 23, 2008, at 3:03 p.m. CST

Sapphire Energy, a San Diego-based company that uses a proprietary technology to convert algae to "green crude," appointed a new president Dec. 22. Cynthia (C.J.) Warner, a top BP Amoco PLC executive and an expert in refining, transportation and operations, will take the helm Feb. 1.

She will leave her post as group vice president of global refining for BP. A chemical engineer by training, Warner has spent 27 years as an oil industry executive, beginning with UOP LLC and Amoco Oil Co. before moving to BP in 1998.

According to Sapphire Energy, Warner will help the company to scale up its green crude technology, which produces a fuel it says is similar to light sweet crude that can be refined into gasoline, jet fuel and diesel replacements. The company is in the midst of a three-year pilot process with the goal of opening a commercial-scale production facility by 2011 at a site to be determined. The company recently established a test and research site in Las Cruces, N.M.

In September, Sapphire Energy said it completed a second round of funding, "substantially more than $100 million," from existing and new investors, including Cascade Investments LLC, an investment holding company owned by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. During its first round of funding, Sapphire raised $50 million in venture capital from Arch Venture Partners, Venrock and the U.K.-based Wellcome Trust. Sapphire said its research partners include the U.S. DOE's Joint Genome Institute; the University of California, San Diego; Scripps Research Institute and the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma.
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