Gaiatech to supply biodiesel for Navi Mumbai buses

By Ryan C. Christiansen | January 01, 2009
Web exclusive posted Jan. 14, 2009, at 11:02 a.m. CST

Gaiatech Fuels Pvt. Ltd., of Hyderabad, India, has been awarded a one-year contract to supply approximately 1.6 million liters (423,000 gallons) of biodiesel to the Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport system in Navi Mumbai (formerly "New Bombay"), India.

"I think the actual demand by the bus company is effectively more than [1.6 million liters], but that's what this contract is," said Mike Stiller, director for Gaiatech.

Stiller said Gaiatech will supply biodiesel for a B20 blend that will be used by the transportation system's 261 buses, which in total travel 65,000 kilometers (40,400 miles) daily. The NMMT first started using biodiesel supplied by Gaiatech on a trial basis in September 2008.

"As far as Gaiatech is concerned, this is our first contract with Mumbai," Stiller said. "It's very exciting for us, because I think there was some competition there. We don't know exactly who they were, but we believe (they were) larger companies than us. And so we are quite pleased with that and it gets our foot in the door. This is really the first major order we have received from them and so, obviously, they were happy with what we have done previously."

Stiller said Gaiatech also supplies biodiesel to the Karnataka State Road Transport Corp., which provides transportation to the city of Bangalore and other municipalities in the state of Karnataka, India. Gaiatech supplied 250,000 liters (66,000 gallons) of biodiesel to KSRTC last year, "quite a minute amount," he said, "but in the process, immediately we received another order for 250,000 (liters), which we are completing at the moment." Stiller said Gaiatech recently tendered a quote to KSRTC to supply an additional 3 million liters (793,000 gallons) of biodiesel. "We're confident that we stand a good chance of getting that order for this year," he said. "They have the ability to increase that buy by 25 percent, and so it could go as high as 3.75 million during the course of the year."

In September, the Indian government set a target of using 20 percent ethanol and biodiesel in transportation fuel by 2017. Stiller said Gaiatech is focusing on the Indian market for biodiesel. "We've got the relationships within the Indian domestic market," he said, noting that Southern Online Bio Technologies Ltd. of Hyderabad, India, is a key partner, as well as Biodiesel Energy Trading Ltd. of London. "We're only really looking at the moment to providing biofuels to the Indian domestic market because, frankly, if we start trying to get involved in Europe and the U.S., the competition is fierce," Stiller said. "There is a lot of competition in India, but they have got such a huge demand building up over the next 10 to 20 years that, frankly, there is not enough (supply) at the moment to be able to service that demand." Stiller said most of the state transport companies in India are looking at using more biodiesel. "There is an awful lot of potential from India, purely just from transport companies," he said.

Gaiatech supplies biodiesel to customers in India through relationships with refineries, Stiller said, using various feedstocks, including vegetable oils, fish oil and tallow. "At the moment, we do contract out," he said. "It works well, because we're very heavy into the sourcing of feedstocks and so our network, from that point of view, is quite good." In the future, Gaiatech plans to partner with jatropha and pongamia plantations for feedstock.

For more information about pongamia as a biodiesel feedstock, see "Going out on a limb to find energy solutions" in BBI Bioenergy Australasia.
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