Scottish group buys Argent Energy

By Susanne Retka Schill
Posted August 26, 2009, at 7:13 a.m. CST

A Scottish consortium has bought out the original investors in biodiesel producer Argent Energy Plc, Motherwell, Scotland. The consortium, which includes Souter Invesments and existing managers, bought the plant from a group of investors led by Cinven Ltd. who have backed the project since its inception in 2001.

Argent Energy pioneered the large-scale commercial production of biodiesel in the U.K. when it started production in 2005. "Since we started production we have delivered over 170 million liters (45 million gallons) of biodiesel and our plant is currently running close to full capacity," said Jim Walker, Argent Energy managing director. With a capacity of 13.5 MMgy, the plant recycles used cooking oil and tallow as feedstocks for biodiesel production. A new facility alongside the Motherwell plant is under construction to prepare tallow and used cooking oil for the biodiesel process. "This is nearing completion and will expand and improve our locally sourced raw material supply and create around 15 new jobs," Walker added.

Walker and finance director Jim Boyd are both now shareholders in business along with the company founder Andy Hunter who remains as chairman. "Along with our new investors we look forward to developing new opportunities in the waste-to-energy sector," Walker said.

Argent's waste-based biodiesel meets the highest sustainability criteria in the U.K.'s Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation scheme. Currently U.K. fuel suppliers are required to report the sustainability and GHG benefits of the biofuels they sell to the U.K. Renewable Fuels Agency. The government has signaled that from April 2010 it aims to qualify biofuels under the RTFO according to their carbon savings and from 2011 they will only qualify biofuels made from feedstocks that meet appropriate sustainability standards. The RTFO currently requires 3.25 percent of fuel sold at U.K. gas stations to come from renewable sources, with the percentage rising to 5 percent by 2014. A European Union target of 10 percent renewable content is to take effect by 2020.