Mar 3, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Palm oil alternative startup C16 Biosciences raises $20 million

Forest fire in Riau Province, Indonesia, on March 1. Indonesia's fires have been an annual problem for decades, much of it human-made for more palm oil plantations. Photo: Afrianto Silalahi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

C16 Biosciences, a company seeking to commercialize a manufactured alternative to palm oil, announced yesterday that it has raised $20 million in Series A funding from backers including the Bill Gates-led Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

Why it matters: Palm oil is used in a massive array of products — from shampoo to foods to biofuels.

  • Palm plantations are fueling deforestation that releases CO2 and erodes wildlife habitat in multiple countries.

How it works: The New York-based startup has a fermentation-based "bio-manufacturing" process for "brewing palm oil like beer."

What they're saying: "Consumers want to buy the products they love, but they don’t want to buy products that are directly responsible for climate change," CEO Shara Ticku said.

The intrigue: They're not alone in this space. Per Bloomberg...

  • "California-based startup Kiverdi Inc. is using microbes to convert carbon dioxide into an alternative to palm oil. Scottish startup Revive Eco is extracting useful oils from coffee waste and Indonesian startup Biteback is finding those oils in insects."

Go deeper: Automating food from farm to front door

Go deeper

Trump to buy oil for nation’s strategic reserves

President Trump. Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor

President Trump will direct the Energy Department to buy oil for the nation’s strategic stockpile to boost prices and help the oil industry reeling after the market’s historic collapse this week.

The big picture: America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve was created in the 1970s to ensure the U.S. has oil in case of an emergency. Today, Trump is buying oil for the reserve because of an emergency.

The fallout from oil's collapse

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

ExxonMobil, citing an "unprecedented environment," said last night that it plans to "significantly" cut spending in light of the coronavirus and the collapse in oil prices.

Why it matters: The oil giant's announcement is the latest sign of how deeply the upended market is affecting the sector.

Chevron joins other majors making big cutbacks amid cratering oil demand

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Chevron this morning said it's slashing its planned 2020 capital spending by $4 billion — roughly 20% — and suspending share buybacks, making it the latest multinational giant to announce cutbacks as global oil demand craters.

The state of play: Chevron, the second-largest U.S.-based oil company, said around $2 billion of the cuts would be focused on shale, largely in the Permian Basin region.