Swiss biodiesel firm Biopetrol Industries has seen gross profit improve by more than 50% in the first half of 2007 compared to the same period of 2006, to reach E12.5 million. In addition, the firm booked consolidated sales revenues of E92.4 million in the first half of the year, up around 48% over the E62.3 million booked in the first half of 2006.

Furthermore, Biopetrol’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose by almost 70% to E4.4 million, compared to E2.6 million in the same period of 2006. The firm said that these results were influenced by the first economies of scale arising from an increase in capacity and from the efficient cost structure of the Biopetrol Group.

The increase in sales revenues in the first half of 2007 was mainly due to production starting up at the Rostock biodiesel plant. In conjunction with the Schwarzheide plant, Biopetrol now has an annual capacity of 350,000 tonnes. The production plant under construction in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, which is proceeding on target, should extend this to 750,000 tonnes per year by 2008, the company added.

In the first half of the year, a total of 116,729 tonnes of biodiesel was produced, which represents an increase of 59% over the same period in 2006.

However, the company revealed that its operations in Germany, one of its principal markets, have continued to be difficult as a result of the government’s decision to introduce an energy tax on biodiesel in August 2006. In the coming year, the tax rate in the free market is to be increased incrementally from E0.09 per liter, to E0.15 per liter.

Nevertheless, biofuel industry associations in Germany expect an amendment to energy tax laws after the political summer break. These associations expect the government to amend the tax rate so that it can meet its target of a biofuel market share of 17% by 2020.

In addition, the company said that subsidized biodiesel imports from the US are causing extra pressure, particularly in the German fuel market. However, it said that there are assurances that the US government will in future restrict these subsidies to the domestic US market.