Verenium annual report raises concerns

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Verenium is the bio fuels company running a pilot and demonstration project in Jennings. The company's annual report recently filed with the SEC suggests serious problems with Verenium's financial status and millions of dollars of dollars in debt. Yet company officials say despite the language used by accountants they are on track.

America's need to use less gasoline no doubt depends on development of bio fuels such as they're developing at Verenium. But making fuel from plant cellulose is a new technology and company officials say Verenium's annual report reflects that. Losses in 2008 total $185 million dollars resulting in an accumulated deficit of nearly $622 million.

Vice President of corporate communications Kelly Lindenboom says such numbers are not uncommon in a new and upcoming industry. "When our auditors evaluate us they have to include what you would consider a worse case scenario. This is nothing new for Verenium and we have not deterred from any of our goals and we remain very committed to moving forward with the commercial development of cellulosic ethanol."

Lindenboom says their partnership with British Petroleum is a sure sign of progress being made toward their goals including commercial production of ethanol in the future. She says there is huge potential for future financial rewards. When you consider the overall bio fuels opportunity which is currently untapped you're talking about a multi billion dollar market.

Economic development officials like Butch Fox in Jennings do not see the annual report as an indication the company won't succeed. "This is like investment capital in this company. They're researching and looking for new products and it happens to everybody who's on the leading edge of technology."

Fox says they remain thrilled to have Verenium in the community. They've already brought a lot to the table here. They have the best and the brightest PhD's and other researchers here trying to get their product to market. BP and Verenium plan a commercial plant in Florida but officials say one in Jeff Davis is always a possibility down the road. If you want to look at Verenium's 160 page annual report click here.