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Crimson Renewable Energy reopens 25 MMgy Bakersfield plant

By Bryan Sims | November 09, 2011

After sitting idle for two years, Crimson Renewable Energy LP has successfully completed recommissioning and start-up of its 25 MMgy biodiesel production facility in Bakersfield, Calif., with initial product lots certified and shipped Nov. 1.

According to CRE president Harry Simpson, the company recently reconfigured the plant to process a variety of low-grade raw materials like used cooking oil, yellow grease and inedible animal fats in order to help its customers meet their California Low Carbon Fuel Standard compliance obligations, which calls for a reduction of the state’s transportation carbon footprint by 10 percent over the next decade. So far during the restart, Simpson said CRE primarily has been using used cooking oil from about a half dozen suppliers within California. He added that the plant recently began introducing some soybean oil in an effort to meet the lower cloud point requirement for its customers during the winter months approaching.

“We can get a fairly sizeable amount in the state,” Simpson told Biodiesel Magazine. “If the plant starts to really ramp up production, we’ll be looking at bringing in material out of state via rail.”

Production volumes will gradually ramp up in the winter months, according to Simpson, adding that the company anticipates reaching about 1 million gallons per month by the first half of 2012 and perhaps double that later in the year depending on market economics. The plant also has crude glycerin refining capabilities, he added.

With CRE’s restart, the company now reigns as the largest biodiesel producer in California. The plant initially broke ground for construction on the facility in 2007 at the site of a mothballed natural gas terminal owned and operated by sister company Delta Trading and originally started making its first batches of biodiesel strictly from virgin vegetable oils like soybean oil, according Simpson, but the plant never produced enough biodiesel to satisfy the local market due to unfavorable economics in late 2009, at which time CRE decided to suspend production.

“We thought we could make some minor adaptations to be able to use these other raw materials so we spent a lot of time beating our heads against the wall trying to get that to work when we finally threw in the towel on it in 2009,” Simpson said.

While CRE will primarily deliver biodiesel to its in-state customers, Simpson said the company has received interest from customers outside the state such as New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona to ship its future product to, once volumes pick up. Simpson said that B99 is currently selling anywhere from $4.70 to $4.90 per gallon in California with registered RINs.

“I imagine we’ll have some spot business in those markets and by next year we’ll be possibly shipping product to the Northwest,” Simpson said.

Simpson added that CRE is following all the BQ-9000 quality management protocols and expects to be certified upon completing its in-house six-month review by the National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission. 

 

 

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