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Virent Will Work With Texas Oil Company Tesoro To Speed Development Of Biofuels

News Article by Elite Tank


Virent, a Madison company developing biofuels and plant-based chemicals for plastics and fibers, says it has forged a “strategic relationship” with Tesoro Corp., a petroleum refiner based in San Antonio, Texas.

The agreement provides an undisclosed amount of money to Virent along with an opportunity for Tesoro to get more involved with Virent long term. It means that like Shell, Tesoro could produce Virent’s bio-based fuels and chemicals, Virent CEO Lee Edwards said.

“We have a long-standing relationship with (Royal Dutch) Shell. They will license our technology and build and operate a plant. Tesoro, in my view, has the same potential,” Edwards said.

At the same time, it could help Tesoro meet federal renewable fuel standards and California’s low carbon fuel standard, said C.J. Warner, Tesoro’s executive vice president of strategy and business development.

Two of Tesoro’s six refineries are in California, where more vehicle fuel is used than any other state.

 “Virent’s innovative technology produces high-quality products including chemicals and fuels that are fully compatible with our existing infrastructure and meet our customers’ demand for lower carbon fuels,” Warner said.

Publicly traded Tesoro said in addition to Virent, it is working with two other companies — Fulcrum BioEnergy, of Pleasanton, California, and Ensyn Corp., of Wilmington, Delaware — to foster the development of biocrude, “which can be co-processed in its existing refineries, along with traditional crude oil.”

“Given our technology platform, we have demonstrated successful manufacturing of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. We believe all three will be attractive to Tesoro,” Edwards said.

Virent’s other strategic partners include Cargill, Honda and Coca-Cola Co.

Virent, at 3571 Anderson St., has 36 employees, down from a high of about 110, after two restructuring since July 2013, Edwards said.