ECONOMY

Bulgarian bio-diesel plant

SOFIA (SeeNews) – Italian-Belgian engineering group Desmet Ballestra will build for Bulgarian edible oils producer Slunchevi Luchi a bio-diesel factory with 100,000 tons annual capacity for an undisclosed sum, a senior official of the Bulgarian company said yesterday. «We have signed an agreement with Desmet Ballestra not to disclose financial details of the construction,» Hristo Chirakov, CEO of Slunchevi Luchi, stated from the northeastern town of Provadia, where the company is based. «I expect that the facility will be completed by the end of this year and we will be able to start production,» said Chirakov. All funds for the investment will be borrowed, he added. Bio-diesel is a biodegradable fuel for use in diesel engines. It is produced from organically derived oils or fats. Desmet Ballestra said on its website that Slunchevi Luchi will process several raw materials like palm, soy, sunflower and rapeseed in order to maintain flexibility. Slunchevi Luchi plans to sell mainly in Bulgaria. «We are negotiating agreements with the large pumping station chains,» said Chirakov. Bio-fuel will be cheaper than conventional diesel for sure, he added. Under EU requirements, Bulgaria will have to secure bio-diesel for at least 5 percent of its diesel consumption as a member. The southeast European state of some 7.8 million people hopes to join the wealthy bloc in 2007. However, diesel consumption cannot precisely be evaluated, due to the economy’s gray sector, Chirakov said. Slunchevi Luchi has accrued losses over recent years, as it invested in the modernization of its capacities, he added.