VeraSun opens North Dakota production facility

By Kris Bevill | July 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted July 28, 2008 at 9:45 a.m. CST

Brookings, S.D.-based VeraSun Energy Corp. has begun start-up operations at its 110 MMgy ethanol plant in Hankinson, N.D. The facility will process 39 million bushels of corn and produce approximately 350,000 tons of distillers grains annually. Approximately 50 people will be employed at the facility.

Construction on the plant began in August 2006 and was completed in June. Just before construction was finished, VeraSun announced it was delaying the plant's start-up due to volatile market conditions. At the same time, the company announced it would also delay startup operations at its recently-constructed 110 MMgy facilities in Welcome, Minn., and Hartley, Iowa. At that time, VeraSun's Chief Executive Officer Don Endres said delaying start-up at the three facilities was done to benefit VeraSun and its stockholders. "Ethanol is currently being sold at a deep discount to unleaded gasoline, which has caused us to delay the start-up of these facilities until the outlook for ethanol selling prices and overall margins improve," he said.

It is unclear what market conditions have changed to allow the facility in Hankinson to begin production. Endres stated that business considerations "unique to the facility" were a factor. A spokesman for the company was not allowed to elaborate on what those factors could be, but confirmed that there are currently no plans to move forward with production at either of the facilities in Welcome, Minn., and Hartley, Iowa. "We continue to closely monitor market conditions and make decisions that are in the best interest of our company," Endres said in a news release.

VeraSun is one of the largest ethanol producers in the world. The company now has 12 production facilities in operation and is capable of producing 1.2 billion gallons of ethanol annually. VeraSun also produces and markets VE85, its own trademarked brand of E85 fuel.