BP and Verenium Reach Biofuels Agreement

BP gas station sign showing E85 fuel price
Under it’s agreement with Verenium, BP’s biofuel development will accelerate.
(cc) Bernard Delmundo

BP and Verenium Corporation have announced an agreement for BP Biofuels North America to acquire Verenium’s cellulosic biofuels business, including the Company’s facilities in Jennings, Louisiana and San Diego, California for $98.3 million. Verenium will retain its commercial enzyme business, including its biofuels enzymes products and have the right to develop its own lignocellulosic enzyme program. Verenium will also retain select R&D capabilities, as well as rights to access select biofuels technology developed by BP using the technology it is acquiring from Verenium through this agreement.

“We are very pleased that our strategic development partnership with BP has successfully advanced our cellulosic ethanol technology to the cusp of commercialization,” said Carlos A. Riva, President and Chief Executive Officer at Verenium. “We believe that BP is the right company to make the investment needed to carry this forward and expedite the commercialization of the technology.”

“This agreement should give both companies the flexibility to pursue the growth opportunities in the respective businesses and achieve goals in the near-term. As a result of this transaction, Verenium will have the resources to grow our commercial enzyme business while maintaining strategic access to the emerging cellulosic ethanol market in a manner that better fits our resources,” added Riva.

“This acquisition demonstrates BP’s intent to be a leader in the cellulosic biofuels industry in the U.S. and positions us as one of the few global companies with an integrated end-to-end capability, from R&D through commercialization to distribution and blending,” said Philip New, CEO of BP Biofuels. “Our partnership with Verenium has been very fruitful, enabling the companies to develop a leading cellulosic ethanol technology package, driven forward by the skills and expertise of people from both companies. By acquiring Verenium’s cellulosic biofuels technologies, BP Biofuels should be well placed to accelerate the delivery of low cost, low carbon, sustainable biofuels, at scale.”

Under the major terms of this agreement, BP will acquire the following:

  • Jennings, Louisiana facilities, including the pilot plant and the demonstration-scale facility as well as the San Diego, California R&D facilities
  • Cellulosic biofuels technology and related intellectual property
  • Cellulosic enzyme technology and related intellectual property

In addition, BP would retain scientists and technologists needed to continue the biofuels development program.

Verenium will retain or receive the following:

  • The core commercial enzyme business, including the personnel and supporting technology required to develop the business, including for applications in the biofuels segment
  • $98.3 million payment from BP
  • $10.8 million in cash (currently restricted) to be released upon assignment of its lease for the San Diego facility to BP
  • The ability to access select biofuels products developed by BP using the technology it is acquiring from Verenium
  • The ability to transition out of the San Diego, California facility over the next two years.

BP will become the sole investor in Vercipia Biofuels, a 50-50 joint venture formed by BP and Verenium in February 2009, and will independently manage all of Vercipia’s activities going forward. Similarly, Galaxy Biofuels, a 50-50 joint development company owned by BP and Verenium, will be owned 100% by BP. This transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2010.

UBS Investment Bank acted as financial advisor to Verenium in connection with the transaction. DLA Piper LLP (US) served as legal advisor to BP. Cooley LLP served as legal advisor to Verenium.

Verenium Corporation is a pioneer in the development and commercialization of high-performance enzymes for use in industrial processes. Verenium currently sells enzymes developed using its R&D capabilities to industrial customers globally for use in markets including biofuels, animal health, and oil seed processing. Verenium has built a world-class R&D organization renowned for its capabilities in the rapid screening, identification, and bioengineering of novel enzymes that act as catalysts for biochemical reactions. The company harnesses the power of nature and uses its unique, patented technology to create products that transform industries by maximizing efficiency while improving environmental performance.

BP is of one of the world’s largest energy companies, providing its customers with fuel for transportation, energy for heat and light, retail services, and petrochemicals products for everyday items.

Since 2006, BP has announced investments of more than $1.5 billion in biofuels research, development, and operations, and has announced investments in production facilities in Europe, Brazil, and the US. This includes partnerships with other companies to develop the technologies, feedstocks, and processes required to produce advanced biofuels, and $500 million over 10 years in the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), at which biotechnologists are investigating applications of biotechnology to energy.

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