BlueFire announces EPC contract for Mississippi project

By Erin Voegele | October 08, 2014

On Oct. 8, BlueFire Renewables Inc. announced it has signed a master engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for its proposed 19 MMgy cellulosic ethanol plant in Fulton, Mississippi. The contract was signed with China International Water and Electric, a subsidiary of China Three Gorges Corp.

"This contract is truly the first of its kind in the United States," said Arnold Klann, CEO of BlueFire Renewables, in a statement. "It not only provides the backing of a large multinational company with the expertise to manage the execution of the construction of the facility but also sets up a cooperation blueprint for BlueFire and China Three Gorges to work together on other projects and financing. The Master EPC structure will utilize a US based EPC Contractor to be the onsite engineering, procurement and construction team using local suppliers and craftsmen generating much needed local revenues for Itawamba County and the surrounding region."

In a press release, Klann said the contract provides BlueFire a pathway for financing solutions in the U.S. while opening opportunities in China.

BlueFire has been working to develop the Fulton project for several years. The company originally announced plans to build a cellulosic ethanol plant in California. In 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded the company a $40 million grant to support that project. In October 2009, Bluefire announced that it would relocate its proposed project to Fulton.  

In mid-2011, the company announced it had completed site work for the project and was awaiting financing.  Two years later, in March 2013, Klann told Ethanol Producer Magazine the project was not dead and was still in the process of raising financing. Later that year, the company announced plans to reconfigure the proposed project to integrate wood pellet production capabilities. At that time, BlueFire said the project would now feature 9 MMgy of cellulosic production capacity along with 400,000 tons of annual pellet production capability.

The most recent announcement issued by BlueFire regarding the EPC contract with China International Water and Electric again references the 19 MMgy capacity and makes no mention of plans to produce pellets. Ethanol Producer Magazine was unable to reach a representative of BlueFire for clarification of its current plans for the project.