|August 13th, 2007, 10:50 PM||#1|
Salad Days Are Here
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Едмончук/Oil Capital of Canada
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Feedlot Manure=>Gas Plant in/near Vegreville
Chrapkos boot-deep in latest venture
Farmboys turned dotcom millionaires look to manure
Published: 1:01 pm
EDMONTON - Shane and Evan Chrapko are up to their boot tops in manure, and couldn't be happier.
The brothers, who sold their two-year-old dotcom for more than $850 million in a boom that seems so long ago now, have gone back to their rural roots for their latest project.
The one-time Brosseau farmboys are co-CEOs at Highmark Renewables, a new biofuels company based near Vegreville.
They were impressed with the technology developed by feedlot owner Bern Kotelko and the Alberta Research Council to convert cattle manure and other waste to a biogas that produces electricity, ethanol or plain heat, Evan says.
"We have seven years of technology that's been patented now, so the maturity's there. And the economics of our plant are 10 times as good as the equivalent capacity of a stand-alone ethanol plant."
"This model is very compelling, and we're finding it easy to communicate that to investors. In fact, it's been easier than it was to raise money for the dotcom."
That's a good thing, because they are trying to raise $400 million to expand the facility, and eventually build other plants across Alberta. (Info at www.highmark.ca).
They also see good opportunities in municipal waste treatment, and Evan and Bern just got back from China where they hope to market the technology.
With his law and accounting backgrounds, Evan tends to be the front man for the duo's 15 years of business ventures. But he is quick to point out that Highmark is definitely Shane's baby due to his agriculture expertise.
Evan is on the six-member panel reviewing Alberta's oil and gas royalty regime, but was a bit surprised when asked to be honorary chairman of this fall's River City Roundup.
"I guess they thought I was the best example of bridging the gap between the city and the country," he says with a chuckle.
Meanwhile, engineering plans are coming along for the Vegreville expansion and there will be no shortage of raw material.
Kotelko's Highland Feeders is Canada's sixth largest feedlot with more than 36,000 head.
And that's a lot of manure.