The US arm of Royal Dutch Shell has offered more than US$26M to buy the Kansas cellulosic ethanol plant of troubled Spanish renewable energy and ethanol producer Abengoa SA, according to documents filed on 12 October in the Kansas District US Bankruptcy Court.

Shell’s bid marked the oil major’s latest push into renewable fuels, a Reuters report said.

“This move is in line with Shell’s strategy to develop biofuels” that use sustainable feedstocks, Shell spokeswoman Natalie Mazey said in an emailed statement.

Abegona – which started insolvency proceedings in November last year – is restructuring itself in order to avoid becoming Spain’s largest ever bankruptcy. It is selling its non-core assets – including all its first-generation biofuel plants – to focus on engineering and construction activities. It has already agreed to sell five US ethanol plants for US$355.5M, which it put up for auction on 22 August (see Biofuel News, OFI September/October 2015).

Reuters said Shell’s “stalking horse” bid served as an initial base offer in the auction process. If Abengoa received competing bids, an auction would be held on 21 November for the 25M gallons/year plant in Hugoton.

Shell also had a sugar ethanol joint venture with Brazil’s Cosan SA Industria e Comercio and stated earlier this year that it wanted renewables, including biofuels and wind, to become “essential” for the company, Reuters said.