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Cashing In On Biodiesel

22 March 2007

Van Der Horst to build a $60m plant on Jurong Island

Yip Siew Joo

BANKING on the potential of clean energy, homegrown company Van Der Horst
Engineering Services is the latest to jump onto the bio-diesel bandwagon.

It is planning to build a US$40 million ($61 million) bio-diesel
processing plant on Jurong Island and is in the process of acquiring a 4.5
hectare piece of land from the Government. The company - a unit of the Van
Der Horst Group - is talking to EDB and JTC to buy the land.

According to the company, it will be the first bio-diesel processing
facility in Singapore that will use the oil-seed jatropha curcas plant as
feed-stock. This goes against the trend in the region to make bio-diesel
with palm oil. The facility is expected to be ready by December next year.

The investment into bio-diesel comes some 10 years after Singapore-listed
Van Der Horst went into judicial management. The listed vehicle was later
sold and re-named Interra Resources.

But the operating units in China, India, Philippines, Singapore and
Holland were sold in 2000 to another group of investors. The company has
since gone about its business quietly, retaining its name and trademark,
and branching into bio-diesel now.

For a start, the new plant will churn out some 100,000 metric tonnes of
bio-diesel, before it ramps up to 200 thousand metric tonnes at the end of

Van Der Horst will set up a joint venture firm - called Van Der Horst
BioDiesel - with a Nanyang Technological University-linked technology
development company, the Institute of Environmental Science and
Engineering. The institute owns 10 per cent of the JV, and the Van Der
Horst group owns the rest. The institute will give R&D support to the
joint venture, and spearhead the adoption and implementation of an
enzyme-based production process.

CEO of the joint venture Mr Peter Cheng said the firm will produce
bio-diesel for Singapore-based oil companies. "Our first intention was to
export to the European market. But subsequently, we had a lot of local
interest expressing to take our product locally - the oil refineries and
the oil traders," he said.

The firm is so confident about demand for biodiesel that it is also
exploring building another processing facility in the Johor Iskandar
Development Region.

Mr Cheng said the group will fund its projects with internal resources and
private equity. Options include listing the JV either at home or on
London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM) for start-up companies.

- 938LIVE

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