Baker & O'Brien, Inc.


Industry Details

Renewable / Alternative Energy

Baker & O’Brien has advised the oil and gas industry on renewable energy sources including biomass, ethanol, wind power, and biodiesel projects. Our experience includes analyzing renewable fuel standards and its effect on the industry, the evaluation and application of technologies, product market studies, and supporting lenders in project development. In the gas-to-liquids industry, Baker & O’Brien provides assessment of the technology risks, technical risks, and risk mitigation strategies to owners, lenders, and off-takers.   We have evaluated gasification, reforming, syngas cleanup, Fischer-Tropsch processes, and product treatment for the production of gasoline, jet fuel, naphtha, base oils, and wax.  Our work includes analysis of yields, scale-up, cost estimates, estimating techniques, and estimate range of accuracy.

Related Case Studies

Related Case Studies
Defining Ethanol’s “Cost-of-Production” - What’s Included?
A “cost-of-production” price dispute emerged for ethanol supplied to a gasoline retailer within the context of the United States Government Renewable Fuel Standard.  As the ethanol market matured and prices settled, the original formula was challenged as an inaccurate reflection of costs.  Baker & O’Brien investigated the comprehensive ethanol plant production costs, products, and revenues, and provided an opinion to the arbitrators. Read more
Out in the Cold: Freeze Damage or Normal Wear and Tear?
A chemical process plant that had been idled through severe winter weather was discovered upon inspection some months later, with damaged piping and equipment.  Baker & O’Brien was retained to review the detailed property loss insurance claim through analysis of equipment damages, interviews, examination of design, and operational and maintenance information.  Our expert report proved instrumental in the owner and insurance company reaching a settlement. Read more
Warnings Regarding Ethanol-Blended Gasoline – Who’s Responsible?
Mandated production of ethanol 10% (E10) gasoline precipitated a class action lawsuit against suppliers on behalf of watercraft in a certain market region alleging damages to engines and fuel systems.  This article summarizes the development of our opinion based on regulations, detrimental effects of ethanol, E10 formulation, and marketing.  Our expert report provided in-depth analysis of the supply chain. Read more
Does Splash Blending of Ethanol Comprise a Trademark Infringement?
Legislation requiring refiner-marketers of blended ethanol-gasoline to make available unblended gasoline suitable for splash blending by third parties led to a lawsuit of trademark infringement over lack of product quality control.  This article describes the essence of our work to present a detailed description of the ethanol blending processes and the accuracy of quality control for in-line blending versus splash blending.  The investigation and findings were entered into evidence and a Baker & O'Brien consultant provided testimony in deposition and at trial. Read more


Related Experience

Related Experience
Ethanol Impact on Refinery Margins
Assessed the impact to U.S. refining margins that would likely result from aggressive growth in ethanol production in the U.S. The study examined the likely distribution of ethanol by PADD under an aggressive ethanol growth scenario, the resulting gasoline supply and demand balances, and the consequent impact on margins over a 10-year period.
PRISM Data or Analysis, Pricing
Ethanol Supply and Demand Study
Studied and presented the effects of ethanol supply and demand scenarios on regional gasoline supply and demand for a small domestic refiner.
Ethanol Supply Demand Evaluation & Pricing Forecast
Prepared an evaluation of ethanol manufacturing business for a U.S. company considering major capital investments to enter that business.  Developed an analysis which included ethanol supply/demand projections for key gasoline markets, forecasts of future ethanol pricing within those markets, and key sensitivities.
Ethanol Terminal Blending Facility Evaluation
On behalf of a private equity firm, reviewed a site development plan for a coastal ethanol receiving terminal and associated gasoline blending facility.  Evaluated the market competition for terminalling services within the local area.
Pricing, Product Quality
Evaluate Biodiesel Production Facility
Provided due diligence review of a biodiesel facility in support of project financing. Reviewed capital costs, operating costs, process technology, and maintenance requirements.
Industry Practice/Standard of Care, Operations/Maintenance, Pricing, Product Quality
Evaluate Biodiesel Technology and Plant Design
Reviewed and critiqued plant design for prospective biofuels production facility.
Project Feasibility
Evaluate Biodiesel Technology Development and Scale-Up
Assessed the technology development and commercialization plan for a biodiesel production hydroprocessing facility. Our conclusions helped provide the basis for the formation of a joint business venture to construct and operate a world-scale biodiesel plant.
Project Feasibility
Gasoline Spill Litigation
Assisted in a dispute between a retail marketer and contractor concerning allegations that contractor's work contributed to a gasoline spill from a retail gas station that contaminated the well water of 130 homes.  Assisted in discovery, evaluated the mechanical integrity of equipment, examined unique theories of causation, inspected site, and attended destructive testing procedures.
Industry Practice/Standard of Care, Operations/Maintenance
GTL Diesel Blending Study
Performed several diesel blending studies in different refinery configurations using PRISM to calculate the Green House Gas benefits of using GTL diesel as a potential blendstock.
PRISM Data or Analysis, Pricing, Product Quality
Isobutanol Valuation Study
In order to assess the potential value of isobutanol as a gasoline blending component, performed simulations of refinery operations at a select group of West Coast refineries to calculate isobutanol value relative to blending ethanol into gasoline.
PRISM Data or Analysis, Pricing, Project Feasibility
RFS Infrastructure Study
Prepared a report for the American Petroleum Institute (API) that analyzed the potential logistics and infrastructure bottlenecks on a year-by-year basis to 2012 that could result from the industry trying to meet the Renewable Fuel Standard from the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
PRISM Data or Analysis, Pricing, Product Quality, Project Feasibility
Refining Industry Overview
Provided guidance as to opportunities within the U.S. petroleum fuels market for blending isobutanol. Developed a list of target refineries for blending of isobutanol into gasoline. Provided isobutanol gasoline blend valuations versus ethanol for several Midwest refineries.
PRISM Data or Analysis, Pricing, Product Quality, Project Feasibility
U.S. Gulf Coast Isobutanol Study
Evaluated the gasoline blending economics for isobutanol versus ethanol for a U.S. Gulf Coast refinery. Calculated the value difference between isobutanol and ethanol in a low vapor pressure conventional gasoline.
PRISM Data or Analysis, Pricing, Product Quality, Project Feasibility
Tennessee Gasoline and Ethanol Blending
Provided an expert report and expert testimony on the production and distribution of ethanol and gasoline, particularly branded gasoline, in the state of Tennessee.  Provided a refiner perspective of the impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard on gasoline blending, distribution, and marketing operations.
Expert Witness/Testimony, Pricing
Isobutanol White Paper
Evaluated the economic impact of blending isobutanol in place of ethanol for finished gasoline in various U.S. markets. Also evaluated isobutanol as a substitute for purchased alkylate in gasoline blending. Determined the highest value options for blending isobutanol into gasoline. Summarized the results in a White Paper style report.
Pricing, Project Feasibility
Biodiesel Plant Construction Dispute
Evaluated engineering and construction practices in a dispute between an owner and EPC contractor due to cost overruns.  Issues included engineering and project management practices which required rework, and construction practices which created safety and operability issues.  Cost estimates were prepared for correcting the deficiencies.
EPC-related, Industry Practice/Standard of Care
CTL/GTL Question-Answer Session
Presented background information to groups of stock research analysts in New York and Boston on the technologies utilized in gas-to-liquids and coal-to-liquids processes.  In addition, the economics of gasification projects in the U.S. and the role of publicly traded companies in GTL and CTL was discussed.
Gas to Liquids, Gasification
MTBE Contamination Litigation
Supported several oil company clients in defense of claims that the inclusion of MTBE in gasolines supplied to the State of New Hampshire caused contamination of water wells in the state. Provided information on the supply of MTBE-blended gasolines to the State and assessed availability of other oxygenates (primarily ethanol) to meet EPA requirements for oxygenated fuels. Testified at trial.
Expert Witness/Testimony, Product Quality
Ethanol Class Action Litigation
Assisted a major Florida fuel marketer in Florida in defense against class action claims that ethanol-blended fuels had resulted in damaged boat engines, fuel tanks, and other marine/recreational equipment. Reviewed terminal blending and quality control practices, the actual quality and formulation of gasolines delivered to Florida consumers, and state specifications controlling the quality of such gasolines.
Commercial Terms Review, Product Quality
North Carolina Gasoline and Ethanol Blending Analysis
Provided an expert report on the production and distribution of ethanol and gasoline, particularly branded gasoline, in the state of North Carolina. Provided a refiner's perspective of the impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard on gasoline blending, distribution and marketing operations, considering the options, alternatives and risks of selling gasoline without ethanol.
Ethanol Contract Dispute
Assisted in a dispute between gasoline marketing firm and an ethanol producer in arbitration over a long -term ethanol supply contract from a new production facility.  Testified in arbitration regarding the development of the contract pricing formula, how it was to be applied, and the shortcomings associated with it. 
Arbitration, Commercial Terms Review, Pricing
Isobutanol Valuation Versus Ethanol
Prepared isobutanol vs. ethanol valuations for gasoline blending at several U.S. refineries. Assessed blend values for refineries producing reformulated gasoline, low vapor pressure gasoline, and California Air Resources Board (CARB) gasoline.
PRISM Data or Analysis, Pricing
Bitumen Blend Valuation Study
Began work on valuing several different bitumen and diluent blends but the study was stopped due to the crude oil assays being used. Work on this study was never restarted.
Strategic Review of Ethanol Plants
Provided a strategic review of an ethanol production business, including the analysis of ethanol plant operating costs compared to regional and ethanol industry competitors. Provided ethanol production margin forecast and made recommendations on whether to continue operations, invest in plant improvements, or exit the business.
Wind Turbine Generator Failure Analysis
Analyzed and provided expert testimony on the frequent failure of doubly-fed electrical generators located at a wind power generation facility. Examined and critiqued: the previous investigations concerning the possible causes, whether possible causes were linked to design, manufacturing or operation; and whether adequate steps had been taken to obviate further failures. Opined on whether the equipment was fit for purpose.
Ethanol Plant Operating Cost Study
Compared the estimated cash operating costs for approximately 50 U.S. ethanol plants to the costs for a client's potential ethanol plant acquisition target. Ranked the acquisition target on six separate cash cost metrics and presented the results.
Isobutanol Blending Study
Evaluated the gasoline blend value of isobutanol versus ethanol for a Midwest refinery. Calculated isobutanol blend values for summer and winter and for constrained and unconstrained gasoline production.
PRISM Data or Analysis, Pricing
Gasoline Blending Data
Provided gasoline and diesel blend pool quantity and quality data for 15 U.S. refineries for use in biofuel blending studies.
PRISM Data or Analysis
Ethanol Blending Lawsuit
Working on behalf of a petroleum industry trade organization, in defense of major gasoline branded companies, provided analysis and opinions related to the potential impact on brand quality from allowing ethanol splash-blending by third parties. Provided expert testimony at trial.
Commercial Terms Review, Expert Witness/Testimony, Product Quality
Ethanol Plant Freeze Claim
Reviewed an insurance claim associated with an idled ethanol manufacturing facility being re-started.  Purpose was to assess items listed in the claim to determine if damages were caused directly by a winter freeze or due to some other failure mechanism such as improper mothballing techniques or normal degradation of a once-operating facility.
Business Interruption, Industry Practice/Standard of Care, Operations/Maintenance, Property Damage
Ethanol Plant Business Interruption Dispute
Reviewed an insurance claim for an ethanol plant "opportunity loss" due to a power outage resulting from repair work on main electrical feed cables after being damaged by a construction contractor. Reviewed operating expenses and ethanol pricing during the subject period and provided an opinion on the reasonableness of the size of the claim.
Business Interruption, Pricing
GTL Facility Due Diligence
Performed due diligence for a company evaluating an equity investment in a GTL facility under construction.  Reviewed project budget and schedule for completion. Evaluated the amount of contingency included in the budget, confirmed the status of payments to contractors and other service providers, and interviewed project representatives regarding mechanical completion and commissioning plans.
Environmental, Expert Witness/Testimony, Operations/Maintenance
Lender's Engineer - GTL Plant
Served as Independent Engineer on behalf of a major Australian bank for the construction of a GTL plant.  Prepared a technology assessment, analyzed feedstock supply, and reviewed contracts.  Inspected equipment and confirmed permits were in place prior to authorizing draw-down certificates.  Monitored construction progress, confirmed expenditures, and compared these expenditures against budget.
Commercial Terms Review, Environmental, EPC-related, Gas to Liquids, Operations/Maintenance
GTL Facility Due Diligence
Performed due diligence for a company evaluating an equity investment in a GTL facility under construction.  Reviewed project budget and schedule for completion. Evaluated the amount of contingency included in the budget, confirmed the status of payments to contractors and other service providers; interviewed project representatives regarding mechanical completion and commissioning plans.
Environmental, EPC-related, Gas to Liquids, Operations/Maintenance
Ammonia Plant Project Finance
Served as independent engineer on behalf of the financial advisor for the construction of a new small-scale biomass to nitrogen fertilizers complex.  Prepared a technology assessment, analyzed feedstock supply, reviewed contracts, reviewed site and infrastructure considerations, and advised with negotiation of contracts.  
Commercial Terms Review, Environmental, Fertilizers, Gasification, Intellectual Property, Project Feasibility
Insurance - Sugar Mill: Lost Production Claim
A steam-drive
Business Interruption