Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sprague to open biofuel facility in S. Portland

Portland Press Herald
Tux Turkel
October 31, 2006

A new biofuels facility set to open in December on the South Portland waterfront will help boost the use of blended petroleum for heating and transportation in southern Maine, the project's owner said Monday.

Sprague Energy Corp. will set aside a 40,000-gallon tank to hold the biofuel and use an automated injection system to mix it in trucks carrying heating oil and diesel fuel.

The facility is being located at Sprague's South Portland terminal. The company recently set up similar blending operations at terminals in Albany and Long Island, N.Y.

"The announcement of this latest biofuel facility for Sprague Energy keeps us at the forefront of clean fuels distribution in the Northeast," said John McClellan, Sprague's president and chief executive officer.

McClellan is scheduled to make further remarks this afternoon during a news conference at the terminal. Other speakers are to include Gov. John Baldacci, Beth Nagusky, director of the Office of Energy Independence and Security, and Kevin Carley, executive director of the Maine Audubon Society.

Biofuels are made by mixing vegetable oil with petroleum. Retailers typically sell concentrations ranging from 5 percent to 20 percent. The resulting blend reduces air pollution and cuts dependence on petroleum, when burned in diesel engines and furnaces.

Sprague said the company is making today's announcement to get the word out to local oil dealers and customers that fuel for bioheat is readily available in southern Maine.

Increased use of biofuels is supported by the state of Maine, which uses the blend to heat buildings. The Legislature also enacted a biofuel production tax credit and excise tax reduction.

Biofuel currently is available in Portland Harbor from Frontier Energy Corp., a leading wholesaler and distributor of the alternative product. The company maintains a 12,000-gallon biofuel depot not far from the Sprague terminal. Brad Taylor, Frontier's president, said he welcomed Sprague's efforts to promote biodiesel.

"It means there's more demand out there," he said. "I think there's room in the market."

Sprague plans to get its biofuel supply from pure soybean oil delivered by rail from the Midwest. By using the injection technology, the company will offer a fuel that's blended precisely for better performance, according to Andy Lynch, Sprague's marketing communications manager.

Lynch said he wasn't sure how much biofuel Sprague might sell, but he anticipated growth in the heating oil market. The Albany operation, he said, has created more than 1 million gallons of blended fuel since March from two 20,000-gallon tanks.

"We're really turning over those tanks and we expect the Portland area to follow," he said.

Staff writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at:

No comments: