Caterpillar Westport to codevelop natural gas engines for offroad equipment

Westport Innovations Inc. (TSX:WPT) shares rocketed higher Tuesday after the engine technology developer announced a major partnership deal with Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT)The Vancouver-based company and the global heavy-equipment heavyweight will co-develop technology that can use natural gas to power off-road heavy equipment such as mining trucks and locomotives that typically use diesel.Westport’s shares closed up $5.02 or about 22 per cent at $28.17 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, however the stock remained well short of a high of $49.68 set in March.Under an agreement between the two companies, Caterpillar will fund the development, while Westport expects to supply key components for products developed under the initiative.Westport chief executive David Demers called the agreement a significant opportunity — although the companies didn’t disclose financial details.“We are working with the global leader in engines, locomotives and off-road equipment to develop an attractive natural gas offering for their customers,” Demers said in a statement.“The substantial price difference between natural gas and diesel fuel is resulting in a strong financial incentive to enable off-road applications to take advantage of low natural gas energy costs without sacrificing operational performance.”Work is expected to start immediately on both new and existing engines, however commercial production is not expected to begin for about five years.The companies said the agreement will initially focus on engines used in mining trucks and locomotives, but they will also develop natural gas technology for a variety of other applications.Steve Fisher, vice-president of Caterpillar’s large power systems division, said customers have been asking for natural-gas powered equipment.“The program positions Caterpillar to become the first manufacturer to bring Westport HPDI technology to the high horsepower off-road market, offer the broadest product line of natural gas-fuelled machines and equipment, and capitalize on the attractiveness of natural gas as an alternate mobile fuel,” Fisher said.The locomotives work will be done by Electro-Motive Diesel, a subsidiary of Caterpillar’s Progress Rail Services unit. Electro-Motive closed a plant in London, Ont., earlier this year after locked out workers rejected pay cuts at the operation.Jason Zandberg, an analyst with PI Financial in Vancouver, said the deal was good news for Westport and adds to its high-profile partnerships.“Westport has done a good job of aligning themselves with good brands,” he said.“It makes a nice fit with Caterpillar but from my perspective as an analyst I still need to see this company get closer to profitability.Zandberg said the potential is there for Westport if natural gas is used more widely, but the market isn’t there yet.“It has just been very slow in developing,” he said.“We’ve seen their joint venture with Cummins be very profitable for many years now … but that hasn’t translated into Westport themselves being profitable.”In February, Westport signed a new agreement with Cummins Inc. that will see the company take a larger share of the profits at its 50-50 joint venture with the engine maker if it is able to grow the business faster than expected.In addition to the deal with Cummins and now Caterpillar, Westport also has a joint venture deal with Chinese heavy-duty engine maker Weichai Power Ltd. and Hong Kong Petersen (CNG) Equipment Ltd.Interest in natural gas-powered vehicles in North America has increased as the price of natural gas fallen, making it more economical than gasoline or diesel in addition to being cleaner burning.New drilling technology has unlocked massive new reserves in parts of Pennsylvania, Colorado and Wyoming that were previously unavailable because the gas was trapped in shale rock. by Craig Wong, The Canadian Press Posted Jun 5, 2012 5:57 pm MDT Caterpillar, Westport to co-develop natural gas engines for off-road equipment AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

South African viticulture expert to give Triggs Lecture

Kobus Hunter, a viticulturist from South Africa, will present this year’s Triggs International Premium Vinifera Lecture Series.Kobus Hunter, an international viticulture expert from South Africa, will present the 2013 Triggs International Premium Vinifera Lecture Series. He will share insights with the Canadian industry on managing quality grape production under erratic environmental conditions.Organized by Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), the event marks the eighth in the series and the second time it will be a national affair with events in both Ontario (Aug. 21 and 22) and British Columbia (Aug. 27 and 28).“The grapevine is an extremely forgiving entity but with great potential for product excellence,” Hunter says. “Achieving the latter requires understanding and skill from both viticulturists and winemakers.”The first day in each province will be vineyard visits and a technical tour, with a public lecture being held on day two. The format allows participants to interact with Hunter and hear more about his practical principles for increasing grape and wine quality.All sessions are free, and participants are encouraged to register for, and attend, all visits, tours and lectures that fit their schedule.To help ensure that this year’s event could be held in both provinces, BASF Canada, a company that provides crop protection products to the grape industry, stepped in to sponsor travel-related costs.“The events in Ontario and British Columbia promote innovation and excellence in a unique sector that we are proud to be associated with,” said Scott MacDonald, horticulture marketing manager with BASF Canada.The Ontario public lecture will be live streamed from the CCOVI website and added to the online video archive after the event.Launched in 2004, with a generous donation from Don and Elaine Triggs, the series was created to attract and showcase world leaders in the cultivation of premium vinifera grapes. The lecture provides industry stakeholders, researchers and students access to the most current developments in the field of viticulture.This series is part of CCOVI’s outreach support activities to the national grape and wine industry.The agenda for both events, registration details and Hunter’s biography can be found at CCOVI online.Ontario event (all times in eastern daylight time)Wednesday, Aug. 21 – vineyard visits and technical workshop* 9 a.m. – Huebel Farm Estates, 14510 Niagara Parkway, Niagara Falls (Queenston)* 10:45 a.m. – Talon Ridge vineyard, 3286 17th Street, St. Catharines* 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. – lunch hosted at Thirty Bench vineyards, 4181 Mountainview Road, Beamsville* 1:30 p.m. – Thirty Bench vineyardsThursday, Aug. 22 – public lecture* 7:30 p.m. Academic South room 215, Brock University, 500 Glenridge Avenue, St. CatharinesBritish Columbia event (all times in Pacific daylight time)Tuesday, Aug. 27 – vineyard visits and technical workshop* 9 a.m. – Cedar Creek vineyard, 5445 Lakeshore road, Kelowna* 10:45 a.m. – Summerhill vineyard, 4870 Chute Lake road, Kelowna* 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. – lunch hosted at Summerhill vineyard* 1:30 p.m. – Tantalus vineyard, 1670 Dehard road, KelownaWednesday, Aug. 28 – public lecture* 7:30 p.m. Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, 4200 Highway 97, Summerland read more