Norwegian wood ethanol makes its way to country's cars

By Kris Bevill | November 28, 2011

Two Norway-based companies with global reaches, Statoil Fuel & Retail, Scandinavia’s top fuel retailer, and timber firm/cellulosic ethanol producer Borregaard have signed an agreement to introduce Norwegian timber-based ethanol to drivers in Norway for the first time ever. As part of the agreement, all ethanol produced at Borregaard’s biorefinery in Sarpsborg, Norway, will be purchased by Statoil and used in the company’s E5 blend at retail stations throughout the eastern region of the country.

Borregaard currently produces about 44,000 liters (approximately 11,500 gallons) of ethanol each month at the Sarpsborg plant using a technology the company developed that extracts sugars from wood for fermentation to ethanol. Until signing the deal with Statoil, Borregaard had been shipping its ethanol to nearby Oslo for use in heavy-duty vehicles and buses. The agreement with Statoil expands the availability of Borregaard’s homegrown ethanol to light-duty vehicles as well.

Borregaard claims it is the world’s largest manufacturer of second-generation ethanol, producing a total of 20 million liters (about 5 million gallons) every year. The company’s ethanol production manager, Pål Espen Ramberg, said the supply agreement with Statoil means that about one-fourth of the company’s ethanol will be used for fuel, which leaves room for expansion. “Our products have a good climate footprint, with a reduction in CO2 of at least 80 percent compared with conventional fuel,” he said. “Based on our current production, it may be possible to increase deliveries to the fuel market.”

Statoil has been blending ethanol with its gasoline since 2010, but had been importing its ethanol from Brazil and the U.S. until striking the deal with Borregaard. “By mixing bioethanol with normal petrol, the highest possible number of motorists will be able to drive on environmentally sound Norwegian bioethanol,” said Dag Roger Rinde, managing director of Statoil Norge A/S. “This is a positive development and a step in the right direction. We are certain that this is an important and specific measure that will reduce emissions from the transport sector for many decades to come.”

Statoil began receiving ethanol shipments from Borregaard on Nov. 10. All ethanol-blended fuel dispensed at Statoil retail stations meets the European standard for ethanol use in transport fue, according to the company.