A joint processing agreement between Green Earth Fuels of Houston, LLC and Vitol, Inc.

the first batch of domestically-produced biodiesel for the Seaport Canaveral Terminal in Florida.

Soybeans and other veggies could soon fuel a new era of cleaner cruises from Port Canaveral.

The first batch of domestically made biodiesel — 50,000 barrels — arrived by ship this week at Seaport Canaveral Terminal, a 36-acre site consisting of 24 above-ground fuel tanks on the port’s north side, off State Road 401.


The shipment from a processing plant in Houston won’t power cruise ships just yet. Local trucks and other vehicles will be the first customers. But cruise ships might not be far behind.

“A new market for biofuels will be created by 2015, as regulations go into effect requiring the cruise industry to switch from heavy bunker fuel to more environmentally friendly diesel-grade oil,” Bill Adkins, a spokesman for Seaport Canaveral, said in a release. “Cruise ships sailing in warm waters are expected to be leading the conversion to biofuel-based energy, and the Port of Canaveral will be ready.” Small modifications to cruise ships would be needed to convert to biodiesel, said Don Goldberg, another spokesman for Seaport Canaveral.

Netherlands-based petroleum giant Vitol Group — one of the world’s largest independent energy traders — began operations at its $126 million Seaport Canaveral Terminal in April 2010. The terminal includes $2.5 million in infrastructure to enable the receipt, blending and distribution of biofuels at the port.

Biodiesel can be used in pure form or mixed with petroleum diesel at various concentrations, depending on the type of engine and climate. Biofuels are mixed with petroleum diesel to prevent them from thickening in cold weather. Most fuel facilities offer a mix that’s 5 percent biodiesel.

Seaport Canaveral will be able to blend a mix that’s from 5 percent to 20 percent biodiesel, to offer the proper mix based on the season or location where the fuel will be used. “We’re confident that this new infrastructure will increase our diesel sales and product flow through Port Canaveral,” Juriaan Steenland, general manager of Seaport Canaveral, said in the release. “Companies are actively looking for this product.”

Seaport Canaveral, through a processing agreement with Green Earth Fuels of Houston, can produce 90 million gallons a year of biodiesel. Biofuels got a boost from federal renewable fuel standards that mandate their use by refiners and importers. The renewable fuel standards program was created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which required 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be blended into gasoline by 2012.