SSA Marine, Port of Seattle agree to increase biodiesel use

By | February 01, 2006
In a Dec. 22 press conference, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., announced an agreement between SSA Marine, the world's largest privately held cargo terminal operation and cargo handing company, and the Port of Seattle to use a total of 1 million gallons of Washington-made biodiesel per year in their respective Seattle businesses, starting in 2006.

According to Cantwell's office, the agreement is the largest venture of its kind and, once completed, will represent the highest concentration of biofuels being used in one place in the United States. "The Northwest's ingenuity demonstrates once again that it makes economic sense for America's businesses to use environmentally friendly alternative fuels," Cantwell said at the press conference.

SSA Marine currently uses approximately 800,000 gallons of diesel annually at its Terminal 18 and 25 operations, according to Andy McLauchlan, senior vice president at SSA Marine. By mid-April, the company plans to start using B5 blends in 176 of its dockside loading and container moving equipment, and then increase to B10 and eventually B20. SSA Marine has signed an agreement with biodiesel producer Seattle Biodiesel to supply the renewable fuel. "We have been very impressed with [Seattle Biodiesel's] blend, production and quality control," McLauchlan said. "We have a lot of confidence that we'll be getting pure biodiesel, and we won't have a problem with our engines."

The Port of Seattle plans to consume 20,000 gallons of B20 annually in various heavy-duty service trucks in its seaport division (the company also manages an airport). The change will occur gradually according to Port of Seattle spokesman Mick Schultz. Starting in February, the company will use B5 for one month, then B10 for two months, before starting to use B20. Again, Seattle Biodiesel will be the supplier and blender.

Currently, Seattle Biodiesel is one of few biodiesel producers in Washington, with a 5 MMgy capacity. However, the company announced in January plans to build a much larger plant that could be on line by this summer.

SSA Marine has 150 operations around the world. On the West Coast alone, has seven large container facilities: two in Seattle, two in Oakland, Calif. and three in the port of Long Beach, Calif. "There's a huge fuel market [in southern California]," McLauchlan said. "Where we use 800,000 [in Seattle], we use 2 million gallons there, and that doesn't include our trucking company."
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