Total, Amyris Form Joint Venture to Turn Plants Into Fuels

Total SA (FP), Europe’s largest refiner by capacity, will form a joint venture with Amyris (AMRS) Inc. to produce and sell diesel and jet fuel made from plants.

The venture will begin operations in the first quarter of 2012, the companies said today in a statement. Total will also contribute $105 million to an existing $180 million research program that’s aimed at commercializing a process that converts organic sugars from plants into transportation fuels.

Amyris, the Emeryville, California-based biofuel company that’s 21 percent owned by Total, sells chemicals and transportation fuels made from plant sugars. The collaboration is an expansion of a partnership created in June 2010, when Total invested in Amyris. The venture will help Amyris commercialize its fuel products and provides Total with a new supply of fuel.

Shares of Amyris fell 0.2 percent to $10.40 at 10:15 a.m. in New York. Total rose 3 percent to 38.38 euros in Paris.

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