Aventine, Murphy Oil wrap up construction projects

By Holly Jessen | June 09, 2011

After a long journey, full of twists and turns, construction wrapped up this spring on three ethanol plants—two 110 MMgy plants owned by Aventine Renewable Energy and one 105 MMgy plant owned by Murphy Oil USA. Construction was halted at the three ethanol plants in 2008 or 2009, very near to completion, and restarted again in 2010.

Aventine, which emerged from bankrupcy in early 2010, held a grand opening for its Mount Vernon, Ind., ethanol plant in early April and had been producing ethanol since first grind in December 2010. Construction is now completed at the company’s Aurora, Neb., plant, as well. However, it has yet to begin production, according to Jennifer Borgen, Aventine’s director of communications. “When we completed our Mount Vernon, Ind., plant last year, we learned some things that we wanted to apply to our Aurora West plant,” she told EPM. “These are technical process issues/changes.” A timeline for start of production has not yet been established.

The third plant, which was purchased by Murphy Oil in early fall 2010, started producing ethanol in March, on schedule and on budget, said Tom McKinlay, executive vice president of worldwide downstream operations, in a May 10 presentation to shareholders. The company purchased the shuttered plant for $40 million and spent $25 million upgrading it and has said it wants to upgrade it to 115 MMgy at some point.

Hereford Biofuels, a subsidiary of Panda Ethanol Inc., started building the Hereford, Texas, plant in 2006. In 2008 it terminated Lurgi Inc. as its general contractor after construction delays. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009.