Production begins at Oklahoma biodiesel plant

By | May 01, 2006
Louis Dreyfus Agricultural Industries LLC, a subsidiary of Louis Dreyfus Commodities, planned to break ground on an 80 MMgy biodiesel plant in Indiana at the end of April, according to Operations Manager Mike Mandl. At press time, a groundbreaking ceremony was set for April 20 with construction to begin soon after. "We hope to officially break ground by the end of this month, and we anticipate that the completion will come somewhere in the area of 18 to 24 months after actual groundbreaking," he said.

The plant, planned for Claypool, Ind., would be larger than any other biodiesel facilities now operating in the United States and one of the largest in the world. It's also the first biodiesel plant Louis Dreyfus has built in this country. "We're exited about opportunities in the growing biodiesel industry in North America," Mandl said.

The Claypool facility will include an integrated biodiesel plant and soybean processing plant. Nearly 50 million bushels of locally grown soybeans will be crushed there, creating more than 1 million tons of soybean meal, as well as biodiesel. "An integrated operation inherently has a lot of efficiencies," he said. "Being close to the feedstock, which this plant will be, is a very positive factor in the overall efficiency and the economics of the operation."

The soybean and biodiesel facilities will be constructed simultaneously. When the project is completed, about 85 people will be employed there.

The Louis Dreyfus facility will be located just outside the city limits of Claypool on 275 acres of land, Mandl said. There is room for expansion on-site, with other possible projects in the discussion phases. One is the idea of building an ethanol plant next to the biodiesel and soy crushing facilities. "It's possible," he said. "It is something that could be considered in the future, but no decision has been made in that regard."

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. provided several economic development incentives to Louis Dreyfus, said Weston Sedgwick, spokesman for the organization. All told, the company could receive up to $95,000 in training grants and nearly $5.3 million in tax credits based on anticipated employment and capital investment levels. A total of $137,500 was also awarded to the local community to help with infrastructure needs. "Indiana is kind of targeting this industry sector, which is becoming increasingly popular," Sedgwick said. "It's something that Indiana can take advantage of as a largely agricultural state."

Louis Dreyfus is one of the worlds' largest and oldest merchandisers of grains and oilseeds. The company operates in more than 50 countries. The company sees expanding its biodiesel and soy crushing facilities into the United States as a positive for Louis Dreyfus as a whole. "We believe there are operation and trading synergies, and strategies that can take place between North and South American operations," Mandl said
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