Sofiproteol reorganizes biodiesel activities in France

By Sofiproteol | July 08, 2013

On July 4, Sofiprotéol presented plans for reorganization of its biodiesel production activities in France, designed to improve competitiveness while preserving jobs. These plans provide for the closure of two esterification units and one crushing unit, and the merger of two subsidiaries, Diester Industrie and Saipol.

The unfavorable context of the biofuels market (e.g., a drop in the incorporation rate, changes to the European Renewable Energy Directive, massive imports) has led to the reorganization of activities of Diester Industrie and Saipol within Sofiprotéol.

Investments were previously based on the European target of a 10 percent incorporation rate for renewable energy in fuel used by transport; however, at a French level, a pause at 7 percent has since been decided upon and at a European level, plans concerning a ceiling of 5 percent for first-generation biofuels are currently under discussion.  

In the context of this pause at a 7 percent rate in France, an improvement in our competitiveness is essential. The reorganization plans provide for the closure of two biodiesel production units with a total capacity of 380,000 metric tons (more than 114 MMgy), the closure of a grain crushing unit and the merger of two of Sofiprotéol's subsidiaries, Diester Industrie and Saipol.  

The reorganization plan consists in redeploying resources in order to recover investment capacities for next-generation biofuels and renewable chemistry.

In practice, the plans focus on the following areas:

-Closure of the Diester Industrie Flandre (DIF) production unit in Cappelle-la-Grande (Nord – 59) at the end of 2013

-The possible conversion of Novance's esterification unit in Venette (Oise – 60) into an AFME/WOME production unit (animal fat and waste oil methyl esters)

-The closure of Saipol in Venette at the end of 2013

-The merger next June of Saipol and Diester Industrie to create a new entity that will take the name of Saipol and have its administrative head office in Grand-Couronne (Seine-Maritime – 76) with effect from September 2014. Lesieur will be directly attached to Soprol at the end of 2013.

A total of 81 posts will be redeployed within the group. Social support for these plans will mean that each employee concerned will be offered a new job; indeed, 90 posts have already been identified and reserved for this purpose by the group.

The reorganization of biodiesel production forms part of Sofiprotéol's strategic plan Cap 2018: this will ensure a better integration of crushing and esterification activities, logistical optimization, a reduction in fixed costs and an improvement in turnover that is necessary to ensure a long-term future for biodiesel production activities. 

This reorganization confirms the desire of Sofiprotéol's Oilseeds Division (driven by Soprol) to pursue the production of first-generation biofuels; they have a crucial role to play in energy transition, the exploitation of French rapeseed and sunflower crops, the development of oleochemistry, the production of proteins for animal nutrition and the industrialization of different French regions.  Thus in 2013, Soprol will be making industrial investments worth €44 million in France, of which €37 million will be devoted to its site in Bassens, near Bordeaux.

Sofiprotéol is the financial and industrial arm of the French vegetable oils and proteins industry. Its mission is to create sustainable value in this sector by contributing to better food for humans and preservation of the planet. The group is active in several complementary areas: seed crushing and oil refining; the refining and packaging of edible oils; the production of biodiesel; fat and oil processing; animal nutrition, the slaughter and processing of pork, poultry and eggs, and processed products. Sofiprotéol is also active financially as a Development Bank: in 2012, it provided support for 140 companies in the sector and throughout the agri-food industry by means of loans and stakeholdings.  In 2012, Sofiprotéol achieved a turnover of €7.3 billion—21 percent internationally—and employed 8,372 people working in 22 countries.

Soprol is a holding company in which Sofiprotéol owns a 69 percent stake via its Oilseeds Division. Soprol groups the oilseed processing activities carried out by several subsidiaries: oilseed grain crushing and oil refining (Saipol); the refining and packaging of edible oils (Lesieur and Lesieur Cristal); biodiesel production (Diester Industrie and Diester Industrie International) and oleochemistry (Oleon and Novance). In 2012, Soprol achieved a turnover of €5.5 billion, and employed 4,103 people. 

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