Blue Sun acquires idle Missouri biodiesel plant, now hiring

By Bryan Sims | November 02, 2011

The biodiesel industry has experienced resurgence in production this year and Blue Sun Biodiesel intends to participate in the foray as the Denver-based biodiesel marketer and distributor just acquired the former Terra Bioenergy LLC facility in St. Joseph, Mo.

According to Steve Bond, business manager for Blue Sun Biodiesel, upgrades to the plant are underway. When complete, the plant will operate under the name of Blue Sun St. Joe Refining and be capable of producing biodiesel from multiple feedstocks such as animal fats and other lower-grade, high-FFA oils. Bond added the first phase of construction will produce 12 MMgy while the second will involve ramping up capacity to its maximum installed nameplate of 30 MMgy.

“It’s a great plant, so we’re pretty excited about the potential for it,” Bond told Biodiesel Magazine.

The plant in St. Joseph originally broke ground in July 2008 and completed construction in March 2009, but never went into production due to unfavorable economics and difficulty to obtain financing for start-up. Blue Sun Biodiesel is currently hiring for positions at the plant, including certified high-pressure boiler operators and a laboratory manager.

According to Sean Lafferty, Blue Sun Biodiesel’s vice president of technology and strategic projects, the company saw the St. Joseph plant a viable acquisition target, not only because of good federal policy drivers and economics, but also the plant’s location to feedstock.

“It’s a good geographical fit and proximity to feedstock supply,” Lafferty said. “We see the mandated market as a good basis in investment and production assets.”

Blue Sun Biodiesel has been involved in the biodiesel business for more than a decade. During that time, the company has developed its Blue Sun Fusion brand, a B20 blend, used by fleets such as Newmont Mining, Safeway, Aspen Skiing Co. and beer and wine distributor Republic National Distributing Co. The company also has its own additive package, DTX, which enhances certain fuel performance properties

When asked if Blue Sun Biodiesel plans to market its Fusion brand out of the newly acquired St. Joseph plant when operational, Bond said the company will make that decision once volumes are met with demand.

“We’ll have to do a bit more work on what the demand is on the retail level, as the impacts of RFS2 kind of filter out and distributors and retailers get used to biodiesel being around again,” Bond said.

In 2008, Blue Sun Biodiesel, along with venture partner ARES Corp., designed and built the 15 MMgy Blue Sun Biodiesel LLC plant in Clovis, N.M., but construction delays and financing issues coupled with a poor economic climate forced the venture to suspend construction and operation of the facility. Renewable Energy Group Inc. acquired the plant in September 2010.

 

 
 
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