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Bio-refinery one step closer to ethanol production

Crude oil transfer station set to receive permit to add ethanol production at site

Photo Credit: PHOTO COURTESY OF GLOBAL PARTNERS LP - A diagram of Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery at Port Westward shows the layout of the site where crude oil is transferred from rail to ship. Additions to the site are planned, to allow for ethanol production.

A state permit needed for the expansion of Columbia Pacific Bio-Refinery to include ethanol production is likely to be granted in March.

Plans for a $50 million to $70 million investment in the bio-refinery to bring on ethanol were announced in August last year. Dan Luckett, general manager of the bio-refinery, said the current facility’s setup doesn’t have the capacity for both crude oil transloading and ethanol production. Global Partners LP, which operates the transloading site, currently only transloads crude oil at the facility.

The site was initially developed for ethanol production, but was never used for that purpose. It became a transloading site for crude oil in 2012.

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality is expected to soon issue the stormwater discharge permit for construction activities at the facility, barring any public comments it will need to respond to.

“If we get comments, then we have to respond to those comments and see if they’re valid concerns,” Ron Doughten, a program coordinator with the DEQ, said Tuesday.

The stormwater discharge permit, which is slated to be granted for the bio-refinery after a public notice period closes Friday, March 6, is one step in the approval process needed for Global Partners to proceed with construction. The company has already obtained an air quality permit that covers crude oil and ethanol, despite heavy opposition from environmental and conservation groups.

Doughten said because the facility already has a permit on file, allowing for further construction at the facility is considered “permit coverage.”

To add ethanol production, Global anticipates significant additions and expenses. The company is already funding an upgrade to Hermo Road, which leads to the facility, and has plans to add rail unloading stations, complete pipeline replacements and six new on-site storage tanks for additional crude oil and ethanol. A dock modernization project to Berth 1 at Port Westward is also part of the steps needed for the expansion.

After announcing the proposed expansion, Global estimated it would add up to 30 new, full-time jobs once the ethanol manufacturing component becomes operational.

Global has not identified a timeline for completion. While ethanol production didn’t earlier pan out, the company says the alternative fuel is an important component of the facility’s future.

Mark Romaine, chief operating officer for Global Partners, said his company “remains committed” to the multi-million dollar investment to restart ethanol fuel production at the site.

“We want to run the ethanol plant,” he stated. “We have a keen interest in running the plant.”

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