KLM promises MilieuDefensie (Netherlands) not to buy jatropha from Waterland International

Lufthansa and KLM have flown trial flights, with KLM using – as far as we can make out -used cooking oil fuel, and Lufthansa using fuel made of 80%camelina  and 15% jatropha.   MilieuDefensie (Friends of the Earth in the Netherlands) has been able to get a written undertaking from KLM not to do future business with a company called Waterland, which produces jatropha.  The KLM undertaking does not rule out other jatropha or other unsustainable biofuels in future, however.  MilieuDefensie is asking people to write to Lufthansa, to get them to also stop using jatropha fuel.   In September 2011, Jatenergy Limited announced it had sold 200 tonnes of crude jatropha oil at US $1,000 per tonne from its joint venture operations with Waterland. The oil had been refined into biojet fuel for Lufthansa by Neste Oil.



KLM/Air France has stated in writing that it will not do business with the Dutch investment company Waterland International now nor in the future. Last month Milieudefensie demanded that the company immediately stops investing in jatropha, the plant used for the production of biokerosene for European aviation. Our report ‘Biokerosene: Take-off in the wrong direction’ showed that the cultivation of jatropha in Java leads to serious exploitation of farmers and has a negative impact on food cultivation for local people. This is a high price to pay for the production of a “green” fuel which, as it turns out, is not even environmentally friendly. Milieudefensie is pleased that KLM has disassociated itself from any form of involvement with Waterland International’s injurious practices. KLM’s statement can be found here.

Statement from  KLM

‘Following publication of the report Biokerosene: Take-off in the wrong direction, KLM has informed Milieudefensie that it will not do business with Waterland. KLM disputes the assertion by Waterland’s director, William Nolten, that his company has contracts with KLM to supply biokerosene. KLM has also told Milieudefensie that it has no current or future plans to directly or indirectly purchase raw materials to produce biokerosene from Waterland.’

More information

The suggested text of the letter to Lufthansa says:


Don’t fly on Indonesian jatropha

Dear Mr Buse,

I am writing you in connection with the recently published report ‘Biokerosene: take-off in the wrong direction’ by Milieudefensie (the Dutch Friends of the Earth, and a sister organization of the German organisation BUND).

The Milieudefensie report (in English) describes the social and ecological consequences of jatropha cultivation in the Gobrogan district of central Java, Indonesia. Small farmers there are growing jatropha, hired by firms like the Dutch company PT Waterland International. Lufthansa bought the oil made from this jatropha through the Finnish company Neste Oil and used it for test flights between Hamburg and Frankfurt.

The report states that the population of the Gobrogan district have suffered adverse effects from the cultivation of jatropha for Lufthansa. Jatropha competes with food crops such as maize for land. The farmers are also losing income. The United Nations and the World Bank have also found that other crops grown for biofuels have similar effects.

Milieudefensie has also identified the ecological consequences of flying on jatropha oil and other biofuels. In the media, Lufthansa emphasizes that its CO2 emissions are falling thanks to its use of biofuels such as jatropha. There is, however, a growing body of scientific evidence showing that the emissions from biokerosene are no less than those from conventional kerosene. These facts are not mentioned anywhere by Lufthansa. To put it mildly, this is too rosy a picture of the state of affairs.

I’ve seen and heard through the media that Lufthansa considers the test flights with biokerosene successful, despite its harmful effects, and is planning to use biofuels on a much greater scale in the future. You have also indicated that you will continue to acquire some of the fuel for these flights from Indonesia.

I am greatly concerned and therefore am asking you to do the following:
• Be honest about the actual emissions of greenhouse gases from biokerosene.
• Acknowledge that by growing crops used for biofuels for Lufthansa, the local population in the Gobrogan district has suffered, and compensate them for these damages.
• Abandon commercial use of biofuels, since they are harming the climate and cutting food production.
• Replace your objective to use more biokerosene with that of setting emission reduction objectives based on real reductions in emissions.

I await your answer.

Sincerely yours,




The report, Report ‘Biokerosene: Take-off in the wrong direction’ says (page 15):

In July 2011, Lufthansa launched a six-month biofuel trial between Frankfurt and Hamburg. One of its two Lufthansa Airbus A321 engines runs on a 50/50 mix of regular fuel and biokerosene.   The 800 tonnes of biokerosine are made up of 80% camelina (from the US),  15% jatropha and 5% animal fats.   The jatropha used for Lufthansa’s biokerosene
was sourced from Indonesia and Mozambique.

In July 2011, the director of Sun Biofuels Moçambique announced the company had sold
30 tonnes of jatropha oil to Lufthansa.  A further 200 tonnes were bought from Jatenergy Limited/ PT Waterland International in Indonesia.


The report also says (page 17):

Growing jatropha for European aircraft – The Waterland Group

One of the companies that invested in jatropha production in Grobogan was the Netherlands based Waterland Group, a consortium of companies established to support a joint investment initiative to secure biomass feedstock for biomass power plants in the Netherlands.

One of the Group’s target markets is the European market for aviation biofuels. The Waterland Group has established a joint venture with Australia-based Jatenergy Ltd called Jatoil Waterland, which is responsible for trading the feedstock on the world market.

On 8 September 2011, Jatenergy Limited announced it had sold 200 tonnes of crude jatropha oil at USD 1,000 per tonne from its joint venture operations with Waterland. The oil had been refined into biojet fuel for Lufthansa by Neste Oil.   Waterland’s CEO William Nolten told journalists that there were also contracts with KLM and other European Airlines.

Jatoil Waterland’s activities in Grobogan are based on a partnership with the State Forest
Company,  which officially holds 35 % of the land in Grobogan. This area belonged to
the former Dutch colonial teak estates. The local people have always struggled to retain access to the land and forestry resources in the area.

While some farmers without land titles secured access to the land, they have no real rights
and state authority over the land can be (re) enforced, especially when seemingly lucrative
economic opportunities appear.