I looked over the prospectus that Szym filed on 5/27 and on page 80 it says: "our lead strains producing oil for the fuels and chemicals markets have achieved key performance metrics that we believe would allow us to manufacture oils today at a cost below $1,000 per metric ton if produced in a built-for-purpose commercial plant." Then at the bottom of page 77 they equate $91/bbl oil to $632 per metric ton. So that means that it will cost them $143/bbl to produce oil with a purpose built plant. So, I doubt they'll be competing with Synm unless oil skyrockets and Synm's feedstock cost follows it.
Sapphire is not public so we can't know what their cost is, but if they could produce at 1/2 the cost of Szym maybe they'd be competitive with Synm. The difference between the two companies processes is that Szym uses sugar in a fermentation style process whereas Sapphire uses ponds in NM exposed to the sun for photosyntesis. I don't know if Sapphire has to supply sugar, but if they don't then the process may be more easily scalable.
On the other hand, Gary Roth said that Synm can produce GTL at something like $45-$50/bbl, I think?
For what it's worth, I think Synm has a better bet of producing a product that can be sold at current oil prices than algae processes.
One thing I didn't think about when I posted about SZYM the other day was the RINs and tax credit. In light of that, $143/bbl oil doesn't look so bad. But I still hold my belief that petro diesel prices are SYNM's main competitor.
The way I see it is that it's not as simple as considering everyone a competitor. In my opinion, the chief competitors for Synm are the petroleum refiners and producers as they are the ones dictating prices and product standards. The challenge for renewable products companies will be to compete with the already established economies of scale of the petro companies. And some companies like Solazyme and Sapphire could end up being partners or suppliers to Synm. Synm has already refined fuel for both companies. Or they could eventually partner with competitors like RTK as well as Valero or other petro refiners. Synm is way ahead of everyone else in terms of getting product to the market, but it'll be interesting to see what happens with renewables in the next few years and see if the govt and public support eventually allow for the renewable products companies to scale up until they stand on their own.