Neste Oil Corporation purchased SeQuential’s biofuel sourcing and refining assets (EW, “Fried Fuels,” Feb. 9). Details have been sketchy, and we should look deeper. Neste is the third-largest company in Finland, a serious state-owned oil company that is starting an international biodiesel industry from refineries in Finland, Singapore, the Netherlands and Martinez, California. Although the company will collect Oregon fryer oil from SeQuential’s old sources, it will be refined in California and may not be widely available for Oregon users.
The company has aviation fuel contracts, which obviously suck up quite a lot of product. (DHL bought 320,000 tons this year.) And the city of Portland had just decided to switch all its medium and heavy vehicles to biodiesel, another strong demand on Neste’s fuel. The Bay Area, where Neste’s refinery is located, obviously offers unlimited customers. Will Oregon drivers be able to fuel up on a regular basis?
Fungible commodities such as fryer oil, wheat and water are vulnerable to international financial manipulation. Recently, a major bottling company tried to buy a whole creek near Hood River. If we grow more wheat in the Willamette Valley (yes!), farmers could still sell it to Japan or Chicago.
We may be losing our fryer oil to the international market. Eugene should unite around local sources of alternative power, if any more can be found or created. We are far too reliant — for everything, really — on heartless global corporations. Local sources of food and power might treat us better through hard times.