Podcast Preview with Bruce Fleming, Montana Renewables

By Anna Simet | May 27, 2023

Season 2, Episode 2, of the Biodiesel Magazine podcast caught up with Bruce Fleming, executive vice president of Montana Renewables, a newly online renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel producer.

BDM: Tell us about Montana Renewables and what led to its inception.

Fleming: Montana Renewables is a wholly-owned division of Calumet Specialty Partners, a public company. The business is in Great Falls, Montana. We’ve got a conventional crude oil refinery that we have reconfigured for renewable feedstocks—we did that over the past couple years. The novel thing that we did is that we maintained as much of the conventional fuel production as possible. We operate in a rural area, so we’re a principal source of supply for the farm and ranch community around us. Unlike a lot of other projects that you’ve heard about, we didn’t simply shut the refinery down—we kept it going as well, so we’re running both businesses. The renewable one is really cool—we’re pretty happy about that, and we’ve gotten a lot of support from the state of Montana. They've been great to work with, and they appreciate the value that this brings to the community.

BDM: Talk us through this project—what are the details, what have you guys been able to do?

Fleming: The refinery has been there for more than 100 years. We haven’t owned it that long, but it has always been a mainstay of the energy economy in central Montana. The opportunity came about to switch a portion of it to renewable feedstocks—we did this in a way that we can run any renewable feedstock from anywhere in the world—used cooking oil, canola is probably going to be a mainstay for us since it grows locally, tallow, greases from the animal protein value chain, distillers corn oil … any of it. We took a portion of the refinery and converted it, and it took us about two years to get it done—we started it up late last year. So, we’re in the business of producing renewable diesel now. We’ve got renewable hydrogen, which we turned on last month, and we’re just commissioning SAF this week. So, we’re going to have sustainable aviation fuel coming out. At that point, it completes our journey—we’re the largest North American SAF producer. The funny thing is that nobody knows it; it has been missed by a lot of folks ... you’re getting a scoop here—you’re the first to call us about this. We’re operators; we have our head down doing projects, running businesses, making products for customers—we’re not developers, we’re not really marketers. We see lists of North America SAF production and half of them don’t even have us on there at all. And none of them realize there is only one producer right now, that’s World Energy in Paramount, California, and they make 5 MMgy—we’re selling 30 [MMgy]. So just like that, we’re largest SAF produce in North America that nobody has heard of.

BDM: What do you think has been influential to Montana Renewables' success, to get to where you’re at so quickly?

Tune into the podcast at www.biodieselmagazine.com/pages/podcasts to listen in full.

Don't Miss an Episode:

Biodiesel Magazine’s recent podcasts:

S02 E01 Cracking Down on Used Cooking Oil Theft
Featuring Jeff Yasinksi, cofounder and CEO of D&W Alternative

S01 E10 Accelerating Clean Energy Transitions with Mobile Fueling
Featuring Frank Mycroft, founder and CEO of Booster

Interested in being a guest?
Contact Danielle Piekarski at [email protected]

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