Oil company restarts NY ethanol plant

By Holly Jessen | July 15, 2010
Posted July 27, 2010

An old beer brewery turned ethanol plant is once again producing fuel. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held July 21 at the former Northeast Biofuels LLC plant, now referred to as the Sunoco Fulton Ethanol Facility, Thomas Golembeski, a Sunoco spokesman, told EPM.

Sunoco Inc., which has refineries in the northeast U.S., purchased the plant for $8.5 million through a bankruptcy auction about a year ago. ICM Inc. was hired to complete a retrofit of the plant. The 100 MMgy facility had design issues and never operated at full capacity. "The work that was done was to take it to 85 MMgy," Golembeski said. "Now as we get deeper into operations and we see how well things go we'll evaluate when we can take it to its full nameplate capacity."

In all, Sunoco spent about $25 million getting the plant restarted. Operations began in June and the first shipment of ethanol left the plant June 30. For now, all ethanol produced at the plant will be blended into Sunoco gasoline, supplying up to 20 percent of the company's blending needs. "As we continue to evaluate the marketplace and ramp up production, we may decide to sell some into the marketplace," he said.

A total of 60 people are employed at the plant. Linde Industrial Gases, has a CO2 facility adjacent to the ethanol plant.

Although the ethanol plant is the company's first, Sunoco has said it would consider additional purchases. "We're always looking at business opportunities, and our CEO [Lynn Elsenhans] has said publically in the past that we would consider additional investments in ethanol in the future as well as advanced biofuels," Golembeski said.