Aemetis discusses cellulosic project, plant improvements

By Erin Voegele | November 09, 2018

Aemetis Inc. has released third quarter financial results, reporting increased revenues. The company also provided an update on the development of its cellulosic ethanol project in Riverbank, California, which will feature LanzaTech technology.

During an investor call, Eric McAfee, chairman and CEO of Aemetis, said financial closing to begin construction of the Riverbank plant is expected in the next few months, primarily driven by the timing of a USDA loan guarantee. “The USDA recently confirmed that the commitment letter can be issued after completing final, internal administrative processes,” McAfee said. “The planned $125 million USDA 80 percent guaranteed lone is a 20-year, low interest rate debt financing under the 9003 biorefinery program with only interest payments and no principle payments during the first three years.”

Once operational, the Riverbank facility will produce cellulosic ethanol using low-cost waste feedstocks, including orchard and vineyard waste, and other construction demolition wood. McAfee noted the LanzaTech microbial ethanol production technology was recently implemented at a 16 MMgy facility in China that uses waste gases from as steel plant as feedstock.

Aemetis also owns a 60 MMgy corn ethanol plant in Keyes, California, and a 50 MMgy biodiesel and refined glycerin plant in India.   

According to McAfee, the Keyes ethanol plant continues to operate at significantly above nameplate capacity, with production increasing by about 5 million gallons during the first nine months of 2018 when compared to same period of 2017. He also noted that the plant continues to achieve high yields and plant uptime. The company plans to make several upgrades to the Keyes plant to improve profitability. This includes the installation of Mitsubishi membrane dehydration unit, which will reduce the plant’s carbon intensity score. The membrane system is expected to be fully operational by the third quarter of next year.

McAfee also said the company has made progress towards the acquisition of 5 acres of industrial land and key permits for a CO2 gas company to build a processing unit adjacent to the Keyes plant. In addition, he noted Aemetis expects to announce full funding within the next few weeks on a project to significantly reduce the carbon content of ethanol produced at the Keyes plant.

Aemetis reported revenues of $44.6 million for the third quarter, up from $38.9 million during the same period of last year. The increase in revenues was driven by an increase in ethanol sales volume to 16.7 million gallons, from 15.4 million gallons during the third quarter of 2017, by stronger average selling prices for wet distillers grains, and stronger demand for India biodiesel.

Gross profit for the quarter was $2.7 million, up from $2 million during the third quarter of last year. Operating loss decreased to $1.3 million, compared to $3.1 million during the same period of 2017. Net loss was $6.6 million, compared to a net loss of $8.2 million during the third quarter of last year.