On the cutting edge: Poet, Navigator sign LOI for CCUS project

By Katie Schroeder | June 10, 2022

The world’s largest ethanol producer, Poet LLC, released a letter of intent signifying their partnership with Navigator CO2 Ventures LLC in early June. Ethanol Producer Magazine followed up with Poet and Navigator for further comment. “Poet is extremely prominent obviously in the ethanol space being the largest producer here in the nation. But I think you know they are one of what is a handful of customers on the Heartland Greenway it continues to buildout both the continued attention to carbon as a key component of how we do business collectively,” said Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, vice president of government and public affairs with Navigator.

Poet has pledged to reach carbon neutrality at all of its facilities by 2050 and views this partnership as a way to help reach this goal, according to Poet media specialist Erin Smith. “According to a study by EH&E, bioethanol is currently 46 percent less carbon-intensive than gasoline,” Smith stated. “CCUS implementation improves that number to approximately 75 percent reduction in carbon intensity over gasoline at the 18 Poet facilities included in this project.” Their decision to partner with Navigator came after months of examining the “long-term viability and public safety of the system,” according to Smith. “Navigator has an experienced team with an impressive track record and will utilize state-of-the-art technologies, and we are confident this carbon platform will be a secure and beneficial addition to our network,” she stated.

Of Poet’s 18 facilities across Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota that are involved, eight of them will come online in phase one of the Heartland Greenway. “There are eight Poet facilities represented as part of that Phase One in addition to the Bolero plants, the three Big River facilities, OCI fertilizer down in southeast Iowa as well as Siouxland ethanol Facility in Jackson, Nebraska,” Burns-Thompson said.

Navigator is still in the early stages of the process, currently working on getting the necessary permits before construction. In December and January, the Navigator team traveled the pipeline footprint holding informational meetings in communities. “We did as much listening as we did talking as part of those meetings,” Burns-Thompson said. “Gathering feedback from community leaders, landowners, county boards of supervisors, other local stakeholder groups and such, helped gather feedback so that if there are areas where we need to shift that corridor where we need a new routing, where we need to do things a little bit differently.” Navigator is currently working to incorporate the feedback into their second round of outreach to landowners.

She explained that they received questions in this first round of community meetings as to why Poet wasn’t a part of the project if carbon capture is so important to the ethanol industry. With Poet joining the project, Burns-Thompson believes that Poet’s significance within the ethanol industry and the agricultural community helps demonstrate the importance of carbon capture and sequestration to the industry.

“I think that that valuation associated with carbon is continuing to grow and the commitment by Poet and…the other processors in this space continues to validify that is going to be a metric that is going to continue to determine the value of those end products, be it that gallon of ethanol or be it the other component parts and coproducts that are coming out of, be it an ethanol biorefinery or other processors across the Heartland too,” Burns-Thompson said.