Elevance producing fuel, in waiting pattern

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, February 23, 2016

NATCHEZ — Elevance is producing fuel but is still in a waiting pattern for what will happen with its long-term plans for Adams County.

A company spokesperson said the Natchez facility — which reduced its workforce in November by an unspecified number — has restarted biodiesel production and continues, “to focus on improving operations in this difficult environment.”

The spokesperson said, “No other developments (exist) at this time.”

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Natchez-Adams County Port Commission officials said earlier this month that Elevance moved one barge in and out of the port in January and was projected to move fuel and soybean oil through port facilities this month.

Elevance first committed to building a biorefinery in Adams County at the former Delta Biofuels location in 2011, a commitment that officials said would bring 165 permanent jobs to the area but was contingent on the company’s first biorefinery in Gresik, Indonesia, opening first.

The Gresik facility started operations in 2013, and in the interim the Natchez facility has produced biodiesel while waiting for the refinery retrofitting to get under way.

Company officials said at the time of the workforce reduction that sustained low oil prices over the course of the last year — with which Elevance’s biodiesel products compete — contributed to the decision.

The company was also looking to ensure they didn’t build up the Natchez facility without an appropriate customer forecast, officials said at the time.

The company’s local leadership has also changed in recent months, and the company spokesperson confirmed that plant manager Kevin Diesen was no longer with the company.

Wanda Horne, who was previously the operations manager, has been appointed to fill the role.

Elevance creates novel specialty chemicals from renewable feedstocks. Using a proprietary technology called olefin metathesis, the company delivers specialty chemicals for use in personal care products, detergents and cleaners, engineered polymers, lubricants and additives, and other specialty chemicals markets.