SG Biofuels Sees Deal in Southeast Asia or Africa in Six Months

SG Biofuels Inc., the green fuel biotech company working with Airbus SAS, is seeking a partner in Southeast Asia or Africa and expects to complete a cooperation deal within 180 days to expand its business into new markets.

“Both regions have a lot of growth potential for our technology,” SG’s Chief Executive Officer Kirk Haney said. “We’ll choose a company that has business experience in those geographies and specifically related to agriculture or energy.”

The company is already working with Bharat Petroleum Corp. to grow 86,000 acres of the jatropha plant, used in biofuel, in India and is planting 75,000 acres in Brazil with Airbus, the Inter-American Development Bank and TAM SA, Brazil’s largest airline. SG said Dec. 10 it will probably raise capital from private investors this year to fund growth into new areas.

The San Diego-based company is studying how to extract the most oil from the inedible jatropha, a plant native to Central America that can be grown on poor land. SG has developed a library of jatropha genes that can be used to breed varieties tailored to specific geographies. The plant’s seeds are crushed to make oil for biodiesel, jet fuel and specialty chemicals.

Airlines have been “very positive” on biofuels, Haney said in a phone interview. “About 40 percent of an airline’s cost structure is related to fuel, so they have been very sensitive. Now that companies like ours have demonstrated cost competitiveness with petroleum, they’re really starting to embrace buying biofuel and are making investments.”

Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Finnair Oyj and Air France-KLM Group are among airlines that have flown planes using biofuels.