Rentech continues site evaluations

Published 2:43 pm Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Evaluations of the property continue at the former International Paper mill site, steps that are expected to lead to the construction of a Rentech Inc. plant there within several years.

Joe Regnery, director of project development for Rentech, was traveling to Natchez on Tuesday and spoke by phone from Dallas.

“We’re still looking at the IP site,” he said. “We’re doing our due diligence, a complete site assessment.”

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Last week the Adams County Board of Supervisors agreed to enter into an agreement with Rentech and International Paper.

The county will purchase the IP property and sell or lease most of it to Rentech, a Colorado-based coal-to-liquid company.

The remainder of the property will go to St. Catherine Creek Utility Authority, a board that will oversee water and sewer treatment plants for the site.

Regnery said the crews now working on the IP site are part of the complete assessment of the site, particularly of the geotechnical characteristics of the land.

The Rentech Natchez plant is a $1-billion construction project. The plant will employ 200 people and produce up to 10,000 barrels of clean alternative fuel per day.

Coal and/or petroleum coke products will be transported by river to the Natchez port for use at the Rentech plant.

The coal-to-liquid process releases carbon dioxide, which can be captured and marketed to companies recovering oil in old wells in Southwest Mississippi.

The carbon dioxide is injected into the old wells to enhance the process.

Rentech was incorporated in 1981 and has developed technologies based on the Fischer-Tropsch process for making clean fuel products.

On Tuesday, Rentech announced that Peabody Energy had pledged $10 milion toward the company’s plant in East Dubuque, Ill.

Rentech officials expect that plant to be converted for coal-to-gas production by 2010, the first plant of its kind, they said.

The Peabody Energy investment will give that company an option to buy into the Rentech plant.

Further, Peabody will provide about $45 million in coal annually to the Dubuque plant, also with an attachment that will provide opportunity for Peabody to purchase equity in the company in the future.

Regnery said the announcement about Peabody’s interest in the company is good news for Rentech but does not have an effect on Natchez plans.