Ethyl plant sales good, no production yet

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

Natchez &8212; Clint Vegas, owner of Delta Agri Fuels LLC, has good news and bad news for folks watching his progress at the former Ethyl Petroleum plant in Adams County.

The good news is that his company is selling more and more biodiesel to its customers.

The bad news is that it&8217;s not fuel he&8217;s making &8212; at least not yet.

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&8220;We&8217;re actually up to about a rail car every two weeks,&8221; Vegas said. &8220;We&8217;re selling a good bit of bio.

&8220;We just need to start making it,&8221; he said with a laugh.

Vegas also owns Delta Fuels Company which distributes fuel at branches in Ferriday and several other towns throughout central Louisiana to a large mix of agricultural and commercial clients.

His new company, Delta Agri Fuels, bought the former Ethyl Petroleum Additives plant in May with plans to transform the 60-acre facility into a biodiesel plant eventually capable of producing up to 100 million gallons of fuel annually.

Biodiesel burns more efficiently in traditional engines designed to burn petroleum-based diesel such as farm tractors and trucks, Vegas said.

Blending soybean oil, alcohol and a catalyst together makes biodiesel. The fuel is gaining popularity among agricultural users and even the government as a way to wean the U.S. off the dependency on foreign oil.

And Vegas cannot wait until the Miss-Lou is working to help with that cause.

But turning an old petroleum products plant into a new biodiesel machine is taking a little time.

&8220;We&8217;re moving right on along,&8221; Vegas said. &8220;We&8217;ve mainly been doing maintenance. We&8217;re kind of running out of things to do right now, I hate to admit it, but we&8217;re kind of stuck waiting until all the permitting comes in.&8221;

The Ethyl facility includes more than 6.7 million gallons of storage capacity, a 20,000-gallon reactor, rail facilities to offload 10 railcars simultaneously and more.

Vegas estimates the plant would employ between 20 and 30 full-time employees after the initial retrofitting is complete.