13 March 2009 16:29 [Source: ICIS news]
Seattle-based Imperium announced the layoffs at its 100m gal/year Grays Harbor refinery in Washington state after the EU said it would impose temporary duties of €294/tonne ($377/tonne) on the company’s biodiesel imported into Europe.
Imperium founder and CEO John Plaza said that while lagging domestic demand, tight credit markets and volatile petroleum prices also plagued the company, the tariffs played a major role in the layoffs.
“Until recently, the soft US biofuels market had been offset by demand in the European market. This advantage ended ... when the European Union enacted tariffs on imported US-produced biodiesel,” the company said in the statement.
Company spokesman John Williams declined to say how many people worked at the plant, but said the layoffs represented “over half” of total positions. Williams said the company suspended production at the refinery sometime during the past few months, but would not give a specific date.
Imperium is the second-largest biodiesel refiner in the US. It started commerical operations in Seattle in 2005 and opened the Grays Harbor plant in 2007.
On Thursday, the EU levied provisional anti-dumping tariffs and countervailing duties on all US biodiesel imports after concluding a months-long investigation into anti-dumping claims.
Representatives of the European Biodiesel Board (EBB) called the tariffs necessary to “level the playing field” for EU producers competing against subsidised US material.
Producers in the US have called the move “protectionist” and warned that the EU could not meet its renewable fuel mandate without imports from the US.
($1 = €0.78)
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