Rentech plant closer to reality

Published 12:45 am Wednesday, December 16, 2009

NATCHEZ — Rentech could be within a year of starting construction on its Adams County coal-to-liquid plant.

The company announced Tuesday that it has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with 13 airlines that want to buy jet fuel from the Natchez facility.

Rentech’s Director of Project Development Dennis Corn said with the airlines’ decisions to purchase fuel Rentech will produce in Adams County, a milestone has been reached for his company.

Email newsletter signup

And now with interested consumers, the company will begin the paperwork necessary to start building.

“This (non-binding MOU) is just one of many steps,” Corn said. “We have to get the projects permitted to operate the facility.”

TheMOU signed by the Rentech and the 13 airlines name 2014 as a start date for deliveries from the Adams County plant.

Corn said if all legalities and paperwork are accepted, Rentech’s plans are to start construction of its plant by early 2011.

“We’re expecting to file our permit applications at the first of the year,” Corn said.

Corn said after permit applications are filed, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality will have a look at the company’s documentation and determine whether or not the plant will be safe.

After passing the MDEQ requirements, a draft of the documents will be released for public comment.

If nothing is found to be a problem, the construction can begin.

“That’s expected to take at least a year,” Corn said.

While paperwork is being looked over, Corn said the company plans to work on the plant’s front-end engineering and design.

Corn said this process will include finding banks to help finance the business venture and finding commercial arrangements that will help build the plant.

“We’re really excited about this,” Corn said. “This is a major milestone for us. It shows a commitment on the off take of the project.

“We’re excited about moving forward with it.”

Corn said his company has been working on solidifying a deal with the airlines since 2008.

Adams County has worked with Rentech since it first showed interest in the county in 2005 and purchased the 450 acres that formerly belonged to International Paper.

Board of Supervisors President Henry Watts said he hopes to see the company’s timeline come into fruition.

“One of the Rentech officials e-mailed me (Tuesday) morning and told me about it,” Watts said. “I am hoping for the best, and I have my fingers crossed, and wish Rentech well.”

“Their site, the old International Paper land, is lying dormant right now, and I hope this news will affect the Natchez plant positively, and we will see some activity out there, too.”

EDA Chairman Woody Allen said while Rentech has a lot of legal work ahead of them, the company’s move is good sign for the county.

“It’s a big step in the right direction, and this is what they are going to need to do — they are going to need to secure contracts. (This deal with the airlines) does nothing but put us in a positive position,” Allen said. “It will be a community changing project.”