Aemetis discusses progress with advanced biofuel projects

By Erin Voegele | March 14, 2022

Aemetis Inc. released fourth quarter financial results on March 10, reporting a 28 percent increase in revenues for the full year. During an earnings call, company officials discussed progress with plant improvement projects and advanced biofuel initiatives.

Andy Foster, president of Aemetis Advanced Fuels and Aemetis Biogas, provided an update on the development of the company’s renewable natural gas (RNG) projects. According to Foster, two dairy digesters and 4 miles of gas pipeline have been operational since September 2020. The company has also completed construction on the main biogas upgrading facility and utility pipeline interconnection unit, with commissioning now underway.

Foster said the company is currently permitting, procuring equipment for and/or constructing an additional 15 dairy digesters and 32 miles of biogas pipeline. He noted that Aemetis has executed participation or lease agreements with 24 dairies to install digesters and is in advanced discussions with more than a dozen additional dairies.

About half of the 36-miles of biogas pipeline is now complete, with the entire pipeline expected to be completed before the end of the year, Foster said. The five digester projects currently under construction are expected to be complete this summer, he added.

Foster also discussed operations and upgrades at the Keyes ethanol plant. He said a test run of the Mitsubishi ZEBREX dehydration unit has been completed, with the system meeting or exceeding key system design milestones and greatly reducing the steam consumption at the plant. Additional commissioning work on the system is currently underway, according to Foster, with the system expected to be fully operational during the second quarter of 2022.

Work is also progressing on the solar microgrid with battery backup at the Keyes plant. The solar unit is designed to generate approximately 1.9 megawatts (MW) of zero-carbon electricity, Foster said, noting that an EPC contract with SunPower has been signed for the project.

Detailed engineering work is almost complete on the mechanical vapor recompression (MVR) system Aemetis plans to add to the Keyes plant, Foster added. That project will further reduce natural gas consumption at the ethanol plant and is expected to be operational next year.

Eric McAfee, chairman and CEO of Aemetis, discussed ongoing work to develop a carbon-zero renewable jet and diesel project in Riverbank, California. He said the company is currently in engineering phase to support the closing of debt financing, which is planned for late 2022. McAfee also noted CPC contractor CTCI has begun engineering work to support the completion of permits for the project.

McAfee also discussed the Aemetis Carbon Capture subsidiary. In phase one of the company’s planned carbon capture and storage (CCS) project, Aemetis plans to inject up to 400,000 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide sourced from its biogas, ethanol and renewable jet/diesel plants into two sequestration wells that the company plans to drill near its California biorefineires. The company is currently in the engineering and permitting process to drill two characterization wells for the project. The first of those two characterization wells is currently expected to be drilled at the Riverbank site during the second quarter of this year.

Aemetis reported $64.4 million in revenue for the fourth quarter, up from $37.36 million during the same period of 2020. Gross profit was $12.7 million, compared to a gross loss of $3.4 million reported for the same period of the previous year. Operating profit was $5.2 million, compared to an operating loss of $7.7 million. Net loss was $881,000, compared to a net loss of $14.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2020.