JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A progressive Northeastern petroleum distributor has become the first petroleum company in the nation to earn the status of "certified marketer" for selling biodiesel.



Sprague Energy, Inc., a New Hampshire-based energy wholesaler, earned the certified marketer designation under the voluntary biodiesel quality program, BQ-9000.



"This designation demonstrates Sprague's commitment to supplying our customers with the highest quality biodiesel," said Sprague President and CEO John McClellan. "It is our responsibility to prevent off-specification biodiesel from entering the marketplace and the BQ-9000 program ensures this. Put simply, if it doesn't meet BQ-9000 quality standards, we won't sell it."



BQ-9000 is a quality assurance certification program that includes procedures for fuel storage, handling and management aimed at ensuring fuel quality throughout distribution. There are two categories: certified marketer and accredited producer.



Although there are more than a dozen accredited producers, Sprague Energy is only the second company to become a certified marketer. The other is Peter Cremer, an Ohio-based biodiesel manufacturer.



"Having petroleum marketers become certified is one of the last pieces of the puzzle in our aggressive pursuit of fuel quality through the production and supply chains," said Leland Tong, chairman of the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission, which administers the program. "Sprague Energy is a leader in what we hope will become a long line of petroleum distributors answering the call to provide only the best fuel blends to their customers."



Tong noted that although producing biodiesel to its specification (ASTM D-6751) is critical, equally critical is proper handling and blending of the fuel after it leaves the plant. Petroleum distributors are often the last to touch the fuel before it goes into vehicles. Ensuring that a process is in place to prevent contamination, use additives properly and engage in good blending practices helps ensure that the consumer will have a positive experience.



Earlier this year, Sprague opened a rack-blended biodiesel terminal in Albany, N.Y. The terminal helps home heating and diesel fuel retailers throughout Upstate New York, Vermont and Western Massachusetts supply a precisely blended biofuel product to their customers. Sprague's Albany terminal, which also stores approximately 40 million gallons of traditional petroleum fuels, stores 40,000 gallons of pure biodiesel (also referred to as "neat" or B100). The B100 is blended with diesel fuel for over-the-road applications and #2 heating oil (Bioheat fuel) for residential and commercial heating applications.



Sprague Energy was founded in 1870 as a supplier of coal and oil. The company distributes more than 2.5 billion gallons of petroleum products, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Axel Johnson Inc.



SOURCE: National Biodiesel Board news release.