Biofuel, Company initiatives, Investments, Partnership

Amyris, Total form 50-50 renewable fuel JV

My apologies for the lack of posts (again) as I have been busy working on getting information for the Bio-Materials newsletter before folks from around the world start their holiday events.

However, let me post this one from Amyris’ recent announcement on its joint venture formation with its largest investor, French oil firm, Total. Yesterday, Amyris announced the formation of a 50-50 joint venture called Total Amyris BioSolutions B.V. with Total. The JV now holds exclusive rights and a license to produce and market renewable diesel and jet fuel from Amyris’s farnesene.

The JV company was formed as a Netherlands-based private company with limited liability. Total and Amyris each contributed EUR 50 million in cash to the joint venture, which in the case of Amyris, was borrowed from Total via secured promissory note. Total has certain rights to buy out Amyris’s interest in the JV before the completion of their R&D program.

Under their licensing deal, the JV has an exclusive world-wide, royalty-free license using Amyris’s IP to make and sell renewable diesel and jet fuel products. If Total will buy out its JV share, Total will have a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license to optimize and engineer the strains used by Amyris to produce farnesene at a commercial quantity, quality and cost for its diesel and jet fuels. You can read more about the JV deal at this link.

By the way, Amyris also recently announced a partnership with GOL Airlines, the largest low-cost and low-fare airline in Latin America, for the supply of renewable jet fuel starting next year. GOL indicated a desire to operate about 200 flights in Brazil with a blend of the sugarcane-derived farnesene-based fuel, starting as early as the FIFA World Cup in June 2014.

Amyris reported during its 2013 third quarter earnings call that its farnesene production in Brazil were fully operational using the company’s second generation farnesene-producing strains. The company expects to be on track to produce over 4m litres of farnesene this year at its Brotas plant, which is located next to the Paraiso sugarcane mill in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with a production cash costs of $4 per litre or lower by the end of the year. Amyris’ production cash costs were in the $12/litre-range at the start of 2013 but the use of a second generation farnesene strain reportedly improved the plant’s operation and performance. Amyris anticipates a planned annual maintenance outage for several weeks in the early part of the first quarter of 2014. Maximum capacity of the Brotas plant is estimated at 40m litres/year. Amyris expects to reach the plant’s full capacity at around 2015 and 2016.

Amyris has been selling its farnesene in cosmetic emollients, as an alternative to squalene, in the production of base oils, and in the production of renewable diesel with an average selling price of $5.90/litre. Sales for the quarter in the said applications were $4.1m. The company is also developing the use of farnesene in the manufacture of rubber, and as an ingredient in biodegradable specialty drilling fluids. Amyris has also been developing a related terpenoid derivative for fragrance oils. According to the company, production of the company’s first fragrance oil already started at the end of the third quarter.

Another recent news from the company is that Amyris appointed Paulo Diniz, currently President of Amyris Brasil, to be its new chief financial officer following Steve Mill’s decision to step down. Mills will transition to an advisory role with the company.

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.

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