Finnish refiner Neste Oil - which recently supplied the first batch of its NExBTl renewable diesel to the US market - said that its $1.2 billion Singapore plant has also just been certified by the US to export there.
Disclosing this in its latest Q1, 2012 financial report, Neste's president and CEO, Matti Lievonen said that "legislative work to open up new markets has proceeded and we shipped our first cargo to the US, marking an important milestone".
"Our renewable diesel production units have operated well, and I am pleased that our Singapore refinery has also received US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification as a producer of biofuels that can count against the US biofuel mandates."
Neste's new 800,000 tonnes per annum Singapore biodiesel plant which started up just over a year ago, is one of two new, twin worldscale plants it has, the other being in Rotterdam. Neste also operates two smaller Finnish biodiesel plants with a combined capacity of 380,000 tpa.
Its latest inroad into the US biodiesel market is good news for the Finnish refiner which had earlier warned about demand for its biodiesel being crimped by the slower-than-expected progress in biofuel legislation in markets in Europe and the US.
The Singapore plant's certification by the US EPA means that it will contribute to Neste's exports there, as company officials earlier indicated that about one-third of its Singapore-produced biodiesel will go to the US and Canada, with two-thirds to Europe.
In its Q1 reporting, Mr Lievonen said "the ramp-up of the renewable fuels business will continue in 2012. The US market has now been opened and Neste Oil has made its first sale there. Sales volumes of renewable diesel will grow clearly from Q1 levels during Q2".
But he warned that despite growing sales, Q2 profits from its renewable fuels business will be lower than Q1, if margins stay depressed. The latter is due to the narrow price spread between vegetable oils, and also low biodiesel margins.
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