Natchez no longer fits Rentech’s strategyPublished 12:06am Sunday, March 4, 2012
In a routine annual report, Rentech said it has abandoned plans to bring a multi-million dollar coal-to-liquid plant to Natchez.
But Natchez Inc. Director Chandler Russ said it’s possible the company will still have some kind of development locally.
The report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission says that the company has revised its project development strategy, abandoning developments in Natchez and two other cities.
The filing states the company’s revised strategy reflects its expectation that finance capital for first-of-a-kind energy projects will not be readily available until the technology can be proven commercially. The company’s Natchez project was a coal-to-liquid alternative energy refinery.
During the company’s 2011 fourth-quarter investor relations conference call, Rentech Chief Financial Officer Dan Cohrs echoed the SEC filing.
“We will not commit large sums to expensive project development,” Cohrs said. “Any commitments that we make beyond low-level, initial development expenses will be made only after financing is in place for any project. We expect to work with partners who will share the funding in development.”
The company will not be doing any more projects like Natchez, where Cohrs said the company “took on all of the development spending in order to try to meet government deadlines for financing.”
An assistant for Rentech Spokeswoman Julie Dawoodjee said she was not available to speak this week.
Rentech showed initial interest in locating in the county in 2005. After several years of industrial recruitment and communication between the company and the then-extant Adams County Economic Development Authority and several months of stop-and-go negotiations, Rentech purchased the former International Paper property in mid-2008. The announced plans were to develop the site as a coal-to-liquid alternative fuels production facility. A projected 400 jobs were expected to be created. Rentech initially projected a $1 to $2 billion investment in Adams County.
Before purchasing the IP property, Rentech had considered locating on the site of the former Belwood Country Club. When another company the county had been recruiting for the IP site lost its financing, the county offered the site to Rentech, former County Attorney Bob Latham said.
Although it is commonly understood that the county bought the property before selling it, Latham said that understanding is incorrect. The county did act as an agent in the deal, however.