Aemetis: Ethanol production, revenues up in 2018

By Erin Voegele | March 18, 2019

Aemetis Inc. has released fourth quarter 2018 financial results, providing an update on the performance of its California-based corn ethanol plant and reporting progress with its biogas and cellulosic ethanol projects.

During a March 14 earnings call, Eric McAfee, chairman and CEO of Aemetis said the company’s corn ethanol plant in Keyes, California, has continued to operate significantly above nameplate capacity. He said production increased by approximately 5 million gallons between 2017 and 2018.

To increase profit margins at the corn ethanol plant, McAfee said Aemetis is designing and constructing upgrades to the facility that will decrease natural gas usage, thereby decreasing the carbon intensity of the resulting ethanol and allowing the company to increase the price of its ethanol by creating more credits under the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard. These projects include the installation of a Mitsubishi membrane dehydration unit, he said.

McAfee also noted that construction is under way on a carbon dioxide compression plant adjacent to the Keyes plant. That facility will convert the highly purified carbon dioxide produced at the plant into liquid carbon dioxide.

Regarding the Aemetis biogas dairy digester and pipeline project, McAfee said the company recently announced a fully financed $30 million project that will capture biogas from dairies and on-site digesters, deliver the biogas to its ethanol plant via a new pipeline, and then either use the biogas in the plant’s existing boilers or convert the biogas into renewable natural gas (RNG). The RNG could be either sold directly to trucks at the Keyes plant, or injected into the utility pipeline for delivery elsewhere in California where it could be used in trucks to displace the use of petroleum diesel, McAfee said.

According to McAfee, Aemetis has already signed exclusive participation agreements with 15 dairies. He said the company expects to continue to sign participation agreements with dairies, obtain state grant funding, and build on-site biogas digesters and extend the pipeline as needed to add dairies to its project.

McAfee also offered an update the cellulosic ethanol plant under development in Riverbank, California. He said Aemetis recently made three significant finance announcements related the project, including a $5 million California Energy Commission grant to fund engineering and equipment, a $12.5 million tax waiver that offsets equity funding required for the project, and the signing of a $125 million conditional commitment for a USDA loan guarantee.

In addition to the California ethanol and biogas projects, Aemetis also operates a biodiesel plant in India.

For the fourth quarter of 2018, Aemetis reported revenues of $38.8 million, down slightly from $28.9 million during the same period of 2017. Gross loss for the quarter was $1.9 million, compared to a gross profit of $300,000 during the fourth quarter of the previous year. Operating loss was $6.7 million, compared to an operating loss of $3.4 million during the fourth quarter of 2017. Net loss was $12.3 million, compared to $9 million during the final quarter of 2017.

For the full year, revenues increased 14 percent to $171.5 million, up from $150.2 million in 2017. Gross profit was $5.4 million, compared to $3.4 million in 2017. Operating loss was $10.9 million, compared to an operating loss of $12.2 million for the previous year. Net loss attributable to Aemetis was $33 million, compared to a net loss of $30.3 million in 2017.