KiOR lining up Natchez investorsPublished 12:15am Thursday, August 16, 2012
NATCHEZ — Alternative fuels company KiOR has investors for its Natchez project and company officials believe it is on track to begin construction in the first quarter of next year.
Chief Executive Officer Fred Cannon said the company’s Natchez plant could be on line in late 2014.
The company had its second quarter 2012 earnings call Tuesday, and Cannon and Chief Financial Officer John Karnes discussed the company’s operations and future plans.
KiOR announced in March it would be building an alternative fuels production facility in Natchez on the former Belwood Country Club site near the Natchez-Adams County Port. The facility will convert biomass products such as wood chips into fuel, and company officials have previously said the project will bring 320 permanent jobs, 400 construction jobs and a $350 million investment.
The company has a similar facility in Columbus that has not yet started production, but Cannon said mechanical construction of the Columbus facility was completed in the second quarter and the company is getting ready to startup the Columbus site in September.
“Given the typical startup issues that we expect to face, we remain confident that our cellulostic gasoline and diesel will be in American cars and trucks during the fourth quarter of this year,” Cannon said.
Karnes said the company hopes that 60 to 90 days of successful operating history at the Columbus facility would be sufficient to allow the company to raise further capital.
“We intend to raise capital at the end of the year and break ground in (Natchez) still in (the first quarter of 2013),” Karnes said.
The company has a letter of intent from Alberta Investment Management Company as an investor in the Natchez project, Karnes said.
“We are not reliant solely on them,” he said. “We are exploring a number of different options, public and private, plant and corporate level financings.”
The management team for the next 30 to 45 days will be focused on things in Columbus, Karnes said.
“We feel like we’ve done enough work on the financing that once we get operating data from Columbus, we’ll be able to talk very, very quickly about how Natchez will be financed,” he said. “But right now, everything kind of comes back to Columbus as the condition persists.”
KiOR is also on track to finish the front-end engineering for the Natchez plant by year’s end, Karnes said.
Karnes declined to discuss local incentives or other arrangements, stating that the company was still in the process of negotiating and finalizing them.