Valero restarts Ohio plant, plans to bring Neb. plant back online

By Erin Voegele | March 21, 2013

Valero Energy Corp. has restarted its ethanol plant in Bloomingburg, Ohio, and expects to bring its Linden, Ind., plant back online within the next week or two. Valero idled three of its 10 plants in mid-2012 due to poor margins. The company’s Albion, Neb., plant restarted operations in February. Once the Linden plant begins producing, all three idled plants will be back online. Day added that most of Valero’s plants are currently operating at or near capacity.

According to Bill Day, Valero’s executive director of media relations, all three temporarily idled plants are located in areas where the corn price was even higher than the national average. In addition, each of the plants had transportation issues that add cost. While margins were very narrow at other plants, Day noted that the margins at the three idled plants were negative. As a result, Valero made the decision to temporarily bring them offline.

Corn prices have now improved, allowing the Bloomingburg plant to restart operations. “Corn prices finally moderated enough to where the plant could be reopened and operated at a profit,” Day said. “We expect that to happen as well at the Linden, Ind., plant.”

Moving forward, Day said Valero is hopeful there will be a recovery of margins in the ethanol business. “Things look very good at this point,” he said. “There has been quite a bit of snow in the Midwest over the winter, so that snow melt will get into the soil, and that will help boost the planting in the spring. Hopefully we’ll get some rain over the summer, and that will help with the harvest. As long as there is a decent harvest and good yields, corn prices should be healthy, but more moderate and less volatile than they were last year, and that will help ethanol margins.