Pandemic delays renewable diesel production facility planned for Port Arthur

Published 12:22 am Tuesday, January 11, 2022

A new renewable diesel production facility planned for Port Arthur has requested an amended tax abatement from Jefferson County as the coronavirus continues to put a strain on construction costs.

“I know for sure that the cost of materials have soared,” said Port Arthur City Manager Ron Burton. “We see that with the projects within the city. Things we’ve bidded out, we expected the costs to be lower and they’ve grown by 25 percent.”

Emerald Biofuels, LLC announced in April 2020 its intention to build a $315 million facility at the GT OmniPort site on Texas 73, which would require 50 full-time employees once operations began.

In May, the council authorized Burton to execute an industrial agreement with the company. However, Jefferson County commissioners recently agreed to amend abatements extended to the company at its request “because of exigencies caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, construction has been delayed.”

The company will now receive 90 percent abatement percentages from 2024 through 2029, according to information from Commissioner’s Court.

The agreement, signed by County Judge Jeff Branick, says the request to change the abatement schedule was because “the county wishes to encourage” the company to build within the county.

According to a resolution approved by the Port Arthur City Council, the facility, which will be built on an 18.71-acre plot, will convert “approximately 7,865 barrels per day of pretreated solid waste into approximately 105 million gallons per year of renewable diesel fuel and approximately 20 million gallons per year of naphtha, liquefied petroleum gas, lean gas and soap stocks.”

The pretreated solid waste is listed as predominantly waste fats, oils greases and other agricultural oils.

“It’s very environmentally friendly,” Burton previously told Port Arthur Newsmedia. “We are excited about it. It’s something we look forward to.”

The new abatement agreement will become void if construction doesn’t begin by July 1.