Earth Biofuels' Oklahoma plant coiled for startup

By | December 01, 2005
Nearing press time, Earth Biofuels was preparing for the start-up of its biodiesel refinery in Durant, Okla., by finishing up last-minute details such as the rail spur leading to and from the plant. "We're looking at Dec. 1," said Earth Biofuels CEO Tommy Johnson, referring to the start-up. "We plan on announcing when our official ceremony will be, but we're looking at Dec. 1 to begin production. The hurricanes set us back a bit."

Earth Biofuels began construction on the 10 MMgy biodiesel plant in June. The plant's continuous flow process technology and design came by way of Miguel J. Dabdoub, a Brazilian professor who Johnson said designed a great number of the biodiesel plants in Europe. "This is his first U.S. plant," Johnson told Biodiesel Magazine. Dabdoub now works for Earth Biofuels Technology Co., the company's in-house design/build team, he said. Earth Biofuels Technology Co. also acted as general contractor in the construction of the Durant plant.

Feedstock for the new plant will consist of soy oil, canola oil and yellow grease. Johnson couldn't say what was being done with the glycerin coming out of the plant, or which company might be marketing the useful yet over-abundant material.

The Earth Biofuels Durant plant will market most of its 10 MMgy of biodiesel mainly to Oklahoma retailers through Alternative Fuel Distribution Company LLC, a company with which Earth Biofuels recently signed a distribution agreement to deliver Earth Biofuels-branded biodiesel to at least 50 retail spots throughout the state. With some big business deals underway at press time, Texas may see Earth Biofuels' biodiesel too.

Not only has the acclaimed actor Morgan Freeman been seated on Earth Biofuels' board of directors, but Willie Nelson has also come onboard. Johnson told Biodiesel Magazine that Nelson now sits on the board of directors. Furthermore, Earth Biofuels is making some keen purchases. "We bought Distribution Drive," Johnson said in mid-November. "We are working on our due diligence and should have everything finalized shortly." Distribution Drive is a Dallas-based biodiesel blender and distributor. Johnson said Distribution Drive is partnered with and supplies biodiesel to The Willie Nelson Biodiesel Co. Earth Biofuels now owns Nelson's company, according to Johnson.
BQ-9000 certification, which includes quality assurances throughout the supply chain, is in the works for the Durant plant. "We bought brand new tankers to meet BQ-9000," Johnson said. "And we are hoping to gain BQ-9000-certification in about 90 days."
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