September 16, 2008

Leviev Group, Evogene and Orfuel to Establish Biodiesel Firm in Namibia


While Lev Leviev may not currently reside in Israel, his presence continues to reverberate throughout the local business scene. Last week he partnered with two of the country's leading companies to form a Namibia-based biodiesel company. Starting with this news, this week's edition of TechWatch takes a closer look at some of the other alternative-energy developments that have taken place in the local market over the last month.

L.L. Biofuel Namibia Ltd., a subsidiary of the Leviev Group and Rehovot-based Evogene Ltd., has announced the signing of an agreement with Orfuel Inc., a US subsidiary of Ormat Industries Ltd., to establish a company focused on the growth of specialized castor plants for use as feedstock for biodiesel. It will be headquartered in Namibia, with operations in Namibia and possibly elsewhere in Africa.

According to the terms of the agreement, the company will examine various castor varieties in field tests in Namibia. Following the selection of best performing varieties, it will work to commercialize and grow the selected varieties on a commercial scale.

Evogene will provide the new company with the castor varieties for evaluation and share its expertise in plant growth. The Leviev Group will provide access to lands for crop growth in Namibia and logistical infrastructure for the project. In addition, the Leviev Group will contribute its experience and knowledge in establishing projects in Namibia and other southern African countries.

Beit Shemesh-based Solel Solar Systems has announced the opening of a $9 million factory in Finland, together with Glaston, a world leader in glass-processing technologies. They will produce parabolic solar reflectors for Solel's solar field projects. At the core of the facility is unique equipment conceptualized by Solel and designed and built by Glaston according to Solel's specific technical requirements and know-how. The factory will give Solel better control over capacity, quality and price of its patented solar-energy technology. Operations will begin this month.

The facility is located in Akaa, about 200 kilometers north of Helsinki. It has the capacity to produce 240,000 parabolic solar reflectors a year, enough to power a 50- megawatt power plant.

This development solidifies Solel's position as the leading solar thermal-energy company. Solel has already announced a number of contracts to supply solar thermal- energy technology to Spanish developers; it has recently completed the re-supply of most of the solar receivers for the solar power plants under commercial operation in California's Mojave Desert.

Zion Oil & Gas, Inc., based in Caesarea, has announced it intends to enter into a drilling contract with Aladdin Middle East (AME) by the middle of this month. Zion CEO Richard Rinberg and president and COO Glen Perry are scheduled to visit AME's offices in Ankara, Turkey, to sign the deal. A 2,000-horsepower rig, to be used to drill Zion's planned Ma'anit-Rehoboth No. 2 well, is expected to arrive in Israel in November.

Zion Oil & Gas explores for oil and gas in Israel in on-shore areas between Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Wichita, Kansas-based AME is an independent oil and gas exploration and production company. It has drilled more than 130 exploration and development wells in Turkey and Egypt for major oil companies.

Petah Tikva-headquartered Energtek Inc., a world leader in the development of absorbed natural gas (ANG) technology, has officially inaugurated its San Antonio gas well as the first "CNG Lite" compression station in the Philippines.

Energtek intends to convert approximately 3,000 three- wheel vehicles (tricycles) in the province of Isabela to operate on natural gas extracted from the San Antonio well using proprietary CNG Lite low-pressure conversion technology.

Energtek entered into a contract in July with the Philippines National Oil Company - Exploration Company (PNOC-EC) for rights to gas extracted from the site. Since the signing of the contract, several converted tricycles have been operating optimally on natural gas extracted from the well. Energtek intends to start converting additional vehicles this month.

The San Antonio project is the first of Energtek's phased plan to convert as many tricycles as possible in the Philippines. The company aims to convert at least 500,000 tricycles over the next three to four years.

Kadima-based IDE Technologies has announced it signed a deal to build a desalination plant in Australia worth more than [128]100 million. IDE is a joint venture of Israel Corp.'s Israel Chemicals unit and the Delek Group.

IDE did not identify the company that it's building the desalination plant for, stating only that it's a "major industrial client." The plant will be able to treat 140,000 cubic meters per day using reverse osmosis technology. It is scheduled to be completed in 2010.

The company said the project was one of the most complex in the world and one of the largest of its kind supplied by IDE to a foreign client. According to IDE, the quality of the feed water necessitates more precise and complex treatment than in similar installations elsewhere.

The Australian client will use the desalinated water for production processes, IDE said.

IDE specializes in commercial applications of thermal and membrane technologies for desalinating and converting sea and brackish water for drinking and process water. The company has supplied more than 385 plants of different types and capacities in 40 countries, which together treat more than 1.6 million cubic meters of water per day.

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Originally published by MATT KRIEGER.

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