Rentech moving forward

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, January 28, 2009

NATCHEZ — Slowly but surely, Rentech administrators are taking the necessary steps to develop a full-scale fuel manufacturing plant in Natchez.

And on Tuesday, Rentech’s Senior Vice President of Operations John Diesch was in town to check up on the site that will one day house Rentech’s biggest plant.

Diesch said while the progress made at the old International Paper site might not look like much, the plant is moving forward.

Email newsletter signup

From Carthage Point Road facing the site, the progress at the plant to date might not even be noticeable to the average passerby.

But Diesch said shortly before Christmas, deconstruction of buildings that won’t fit in with Rentech’s plans started.

Rentech’s Property Manager George Bearry is at the site fulltime and said it will likely be second quarter of 2009 before the deconstruction phase is completed.

But while deconstruction rolls on, one of the most important parts of Rentech’s project is already being worked on.

Diesch said before even the first shovel full of dirt can be turned over to start construction, Rentech must first get its permit to construct.

And to get that permit, the company will have to tell state and federal environmental agencies what their emissions will be and in what quantity they’ll be.

“That’s critical,” Diesch said. “We can’t do anything without it.”

But that permitting process isn’t quick.

Diesch said it will be up to four months before the application is submitted.

After that it could be 12 to 18 months before the permit is approved.

In the meantime, the company will continue site planning, Diesch said.

In the past, Rentech officials have said it would likely be 2012 before the plant would be operational, but on Tuesday Diesch could not confirm if that timeline was still in place.

“There are so many variables on a project of this size,” he said. “Schedules can be very unprecise.”

Once operational, the Natchez plant is scheduled to make up to 25,000 barrels per day of ultra clean-burning diesel.