A Houston-based renewable fuels company is looking at leasing a 164-acre site at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge to build a $400 million to $500 million plant.
Greentech Materials LLC would produce environmentally friendly diesel fuel from soybean and palm oil. Some of the officials involved with the project worked for The Shaw Group in the mid-2000s, when the former Baton Rouge company was considering building a plant at the port. They were not identified. That plant would have blended vegetable oil and alcohol to produce biodiesel.
The port’s executive committee approved a measure Thursday that gives Greentech 90 days to reach an agreement for an option on the land, located west of the Genesis Energy terminal at the Inland Rivers Marine Terminal. The full port committee will vote on the measure next week.
“We’re going to keep talking,” said Jay Hardman, the port’s executive director. Hardman said the principals from Greentech approached the port just before the holidays about leasing the land. Greentech came back after the first of the year wanting to sign an option on the site, but Hardman said there hadn’t been any discussion of commercial terms. “There was no time to develop an option and bring it to y’all,” he told the committee. “It would have been too much of a rush.”
Hardman said the port reached a similar option agreement with Genesis about six years ago. This allowed the company to see if it could get permits from the state for its petroleum storage facility. Hardman said Genesis paid a sum of money when it signed the option, then another sum once it signed a lease. The money the company paid ended up being applied to the first year of rent payments.
Greentech would produce 8 million to 9 million barrels of renewable fuel that would be shipped by barge or rail. In contrast, Genesis pumps out 20 million to 25 million barrels of petroleum products annually, Hardman said.
Greentech is made up of “legitimate” and “very honest people,” who have the private funding to build the infrastructure for a renewable fuels plant, Hardman said.
“They’re looking now for developmental funding, which is a different pool of money and a different type of risk,” he said. If investors know Greentech has a site or a handshake deal on a site, that will help raise money to move construction forward.