Manufacturer delays slow construction for some

By | January 10, 2007
The rush to build renewable fuels plants appears to be impeding construction for some projects in the biodiesel industry. Many groups currently building biodiesel plants have expressed concern to Biodiesel Magazine about the lengthening-sometimes unexpected-delays for receiving plant components. In fact, several projects have pushed their start-up dates back at least one month due to delays.

One project recently overcame the delays and is now on line. Michigan Biodiesel in Bangor, Mich., tested its first batch of biodiesel Nov. 22. The plant is now preparing to operate 24 hours per day, according to company CFO Roger Betz. Betz listed several items he had to wait for, including fuel loading arms, motors and a tank flame arrestor. "We had some difficulties," Betz said in early November. "It's been a boom for suppliers, some who are out 10 to 12 weeks on some items. I've talked to suppliers, and they are booked even on things like ethanol and biodiesel tanks, and fittings." Despite supply delays, Betz said his project was completed according to the construction timeline.

Two biodiesel projects in Texas had also been waiting on key items. One project was being built based on an "accelerated timeline," according to a company spokesman, and suppliers weren't given enough lead time to manufacture equipment. The second project was waiting for a final piece of equipment for its methanol recovery system in order to reach full-scale start-up. Initial tests of biodiesel were being produced, but full-scale production was delayed by at least one month. "The construction is basically complete," a spokesman said. "Our supplier has some back orders to fill."

All-American Biodiesel in York, N.D., is pushing back plans for start-up until May. Lee Dirkzwager said he initially wanted to start up his plant at a limited production level by December 2006. The plant is designed to expand to 5 MMgy but will initially produce 2 MMgy. Following several delays, Dirkzwager said he switched vendors for an unspecified "major" piece of equipment.

One supplier told Biodiesel Magazine that the demand for specialized equipment has increased since many biodiesel projects are being custom-built through a variety of builders.

There are more than 1 billion gallons of biodiesel capacity under construction or expansion at more than 45 plants in the United States.
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