North Dakota canola plant stops crushing

By Ron Kotrba | January 15, 2009
Web exclusive posted Jan. 26, 2009, at 4:32 p.m. CST

The Northwood Mills canola crush plant in Northwood, N.D., has temporarily shut down due to poor market economics brought on by a drop in canola oil demand, said Geoff Bengtson, Northwood Mills merchandiser.

"On the food side, demand is down like 20 percent," Bengtson told Biodiesel Magazine. "People are eating out less." He said the biodiesel plants that Northwood Mills was selling its canola oil have scaled back production or stopped operations altogether.

The canola oil content the facility had been crushing recently was higher than the previous year's seed 46 percent compared to 41 percent oil. The facility is a mechanical, not a chemical, extraction plant.

"Because of that, we leave a little more oil in the meal we produce," Bengtson said. "The residual fat, or oil, in our meal is roughly 11 percent, and in a chemical extraction facility the residual fat is closer to 2 percent." Operating full bore, the plant can crush 250 tons of seed per day to produce up to 8 MMgy of canola oil.

Northwood Mills' management is not exactly sure when production will resume. "There's just no movement on the oil side right now whatsoever," Bengtson said. "We keep asking ourselves, 'How did the market change so quickly and so drastically?'"
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