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KiOR sees production increase

NATCHEZ — Though it is still not at the volume company officials said they anticipated for earlier quarters this year, KiOR company officials announced this week the company’s Columbus facility had produced 357,532 gallons of fuel by the end of August.

In an operational update released Thursday, the company said 172,398 of those gallons of fuel were produced in July and August, with that two-month period exceeding the total production of the preceding quarter.

In May, KiOR Chief Executive Officer Fred Cannon said the company expected to produce between 300,000 and 500,000 gallons during that quarter, but when the second quarter ended the company announced it had shipped only 75,000 gallons.

At the end of August — two months into the three-month quarter — the company had more than doubled the shipment total, bringing the total gallons of fuel shipped to 199,071 gallons.

“KiOR’s Columbus facility continues to make strides toward steady state operations,” Cannon said. “We believe we are well-positioned to build on the progress made during July and August and to produce additional volumes of cellulostic fuel for American vehicles consistent with our most recent guidance.”

KiOR announced in 2012 its intentions to build a production facility in Natchez that is larger than the one in Columbus, which was at the time under construction and was commissioned later that year. Company officials said at the time that getting the Columbus facility into operation was a necessary benchmark before construction could start in Natchez.

Groundbreaking for the Natchez facility — which will be located on the site of the former Belwood Country Club and is projected to create 320 direct and indirect jobs — has in the past been projected for late 2013.

But in August Cannon said the company was evaluating the option of building a second facility in Columbus before starting construction in Natchez. The second Columbus plant could share some infrastructure and personnel with the existing facility and could help the company establish a positive cash flow more quickly, he said at the time.

KiOR Spokeswoman Kate Perez said Friday she could not comment on the evaluation or when the decision might be announced.