DDL unveils new Bio-Methanisation plant

-reports record profits in ’09

Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) has almost completed construction of a Bio-Methanisation plant, which is expected to help it slash fuel costs, in an environmentally-friendly way.

A photograph showing the Bio-Methanisation plant currently being constructed at DDL, Diamond. The three silos are shown in photo; each tank is 200 feet in diameter and twenty feet in height. The plant will capture the distillery waste and convert it into methane gas which will be used to power the company’s boilers thereby cutting fuel costs by up to 80%.

DDL yesterday hosted a media tour of the still-under-construction plant, while also reporting on its performance last year, during which it recorded an after-tax profit of $1.033B.

The Bio-Methanisation plant is expected to convert waste from the distillery to methane gas to power the company’s boilers. UEM Contractors started construction last year and is expected to complete the plant within a few months. Shaun Caleb, Chemical Engineer, said  the plant is the first of its kind in the Caribbean. He noted that DDL has been able to gather lessons from similar projects in other countries and it is sure that it will achieve its goals. It is estimated that the company can save 70% to 85% of oil used in its production process, which Caleb noted is a “significant saving.”

Caleb explained that the molasses effluent, produced during distillation, is very rich in organic matter. It is usually disposed of in the Demerara River. However, a decision was taken, in keeping with the company’s “treading the green pathway” initiative, to find a means of converting the waste into a source of energy.  As such the waste will be broken down in a number of stages.

From the distillery, it will be led into a holding pond to which cow manure will be added to aid the decomposition process. After this stage, the liquid will be transferred to the tanks.  There are three tanks, each 200 feet in diameter and 20 feet high.  From the bio-gas building, the gas will be fed via pipelines, which lead from the tanks to the distillery. It is expected that the tanks will be able to hold one month’s production of waste and be able to replace oil as a fuel source.  The company also expects the initiative to do less harm to the environment.

DDL’s Managing Executive Director Komal Samaroo noted that the company’s operations are being driven by the desire to leave the smallest carbon footprint possible.
A good year
Meanwhile, in giving an overview of DDL’s performance for 2009, Samaroo noted that the company’s profits after tax was $1.033B, as against $0.906B in 2008, representing an increase of 14%.  This is the first time the company has been able to break the billion-dollar mark.  In this regard, Samaroo said its growth should be seen as outstanding, given the financial backdrop of the past year.

The group’s turnover increased by 2.5%; from $12.064B in 2008 to $12.364B last year.  The profit before interest and taxation was $2.165B compared with $1.971B in 2008. Samaroo said the performance of the group illustrated its steady and sustained growth in spite of the world financial meltdown and the ensuing challenges.

The shareholders’ equity at the end of 2009 was $11.257B against $10.497B in 2008, representing an increase of 7.24%. Additionally, returns to shareholders’ funds were 14.68% in 2009 from 13.72% in 2008.

Samaroo noted that the company’s revenue grew by 13% in the international branded market.  While acknowledging the good financial year of the company, he said that it did experience difficulties in the bulk market but had good growth in the branded business.

Chairman of DDL Yesu Persaud said that 2009 was one of the most challenging years for the company but it managed to survive and come out with flying colours. He lauded the efforts of the management team, whom he said has always been optimistic, despite the difficulties. The Board of Directors, he said, is committed in its drive to expand the brand on the international market.

He said with the creation of El Dorado rum, the company has a product which is recognised worldwide because of its high standards. “The company looks to the future with much confidence and it’s just the beginning of bigger things to happen,” Persaud said.  He envisions with more planning and a strategic plan for future development, the company will be able to compete more on the international market.  He noted that the brands of the company can be considered one of the best in the region.

With reference to the DSL stores, Persaud said that the company plans to open several other branches and is moving full steam ahead to diversify its product base.

DDL’s El Dorado 12 year, 15 year and 21 year again won the Gold Medal in their respective categories at the International Wine and Spirit Competition.  It was the tenth consecutive year that the 15 year old won the gold medal.

Persaud said the future of the company seems excellent and there are a number of projects in the pipeline which will be disclosed shortly.

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