Energy companies eyeing sites in Natchez area

NATCHEZ — Adams County hopes to advertise for bids in April for port improvement construction related to a biofuels project.

Elevance Renewable Sciences Inc. announced in 2011 its plans to convert the Delta BioFuels plant into a bio-refinery, in which fuels and other chemicals will be produced from organic matter. The company — which makes chemical ingredients for personal care products, detergents, plastics and lubricants — said it would invest more than $225 million in the project.

Since then, the company says it has spent about $1 million on improvements to the plant.

Elevance has committed to bringing 165 permanent jobs to Adams County.

Adams County is going to build a liquid loading dock for loading and unloading chemicals.

Natchez Inc. executive director Chandler Russ told the Natchez Democrat the country could solicit bids in April, award the bid in May or June and begin construction shortly thereafter.

He said Elevance should begin construction on its end of the project in the next six months, which means the county’s construction should begin sometime shortly before that.

“Our construction needs to be in conjunction with them, meaning that basically by the time they are done with their construction, we need to be done with ours so they can utilize the facilities,” he said.

The estimated cost for the liquid loading dock is $4 million, though that will ultimately depend on the bids submitted.

As the project moves forward, the company plans to use rail, barge and truck traffic to move its products from the port.

In a separate item, EmberClear GTL MS has completed a technical feasibility study for a possible natural gas-to-liquids project on an 800-acre site along the Mississippi River in Natchez.

The Canadian company said in a news release that if the project proceeds the plant could produce 4,000 tons of methanol per day or 14,000 barrels of gasoline per day.

Russ told the Natchez Democrat the company is a long way from making a commitment to the Natchez area.

“While we are definitely engaged with them, we have a long way to go before we reach something meaningful about this,” Russ said.

The company’s chief operating officer, Nick Cohen, said the Natchez site is served by American Midstream’s Midla pipeline system, which intersects three interstate gas pipelines, providing the company with the option to source gas from virtually anywhere in Texas and Louisiana, as well as parts of Oklahoma.

Steve Goff, vice president for Gulf Coast development for EmberClear, said the announcement was made as part of full-disclosure rules the company has to follow because it is publicly traded.

“We are looking at the opportunity to be in Natchez, and we think it has all of the proper elements to do a plant of this nature,” Goff said. “We are hopeful that all of our due diligence warrants that we can proceed.”

Cohen said a previously announced Swatara property in northeastern Pennsylvania is also being evaluated for a natural gas to liquids project. He said the site is near existing natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale region, rail-to-port access and a gasoline pipeline that connects to a distribution center in the region.

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