LOUISIANA: Pine Slash to Feed New Green Diesel Plant

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana, April 23, 2021 (ENS) – Kansas-based Strategic Biofuels has announced that the company’s subsidiary, Louisiana Green Fuels, plans to develop a renewable diesel plant in northern Louisiana as the first in a chain of refineries that would produce renewable aviation fuel as well as diesel.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and Strategic Biofuels CEO Paul Schubert announced Tuesday that the plant would be located on a 170-acre site at the Port of Columbia in Caldwell Parish. It would produce up to 32 million gallons of renewable fuel a year through established refinery processes with pine slash wood waste as the feedstock.

The greenhouse gas, primarily carbon dioxide, produced by Louisiana Green Fuels will be captured and permanently sequestered in underground geologic formations, preventing the greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere. The carbon-capture process will enable Louisiana Green Fuels to become a carbon-negative entity that removes more greenhouse gas from the environment than it produces.

Pine plantations like this one in Caldwell Parish, Louisiana will produce the slash that will fuel the Louisiana Green Fuels plant at the Port of Columbia. (Photo courtesy RecLand Realty)

“Louisiana Green Fuels is an example of how our state can merge traditional and emerging forms of energy in exciting ways to address climate change,” Governor Edwards said. “The company has engaged Justiss Oil of Jena to drill a sequestration test well that will confirm the integrity of carbon storage a mile below the earth’s surface.”

“This project would boost our state’s forestry sector by harvesting timber byproducts in a sustainable fashion, and the refinery’s renewable diesel output would be accomplished in a carbon-negative fashion. That means this refinery would achieve better than net-zero emissions – it would actually remove more carbon from the environment than it produces,” the governor said.

Within a 75-mile radius of the Port of Columbia there many more tons of pine grown on private managed plantations than are harvested each year. They must be thinned periodically for timber harvesting and to prevent wildfires. These thinnings, along with the branches, pine needles and treetops, known as slash, are the forestry wastes that will supply the Louisiana Green Fuels plant.

“Caldwell Parish is the ideal location for our Louisiana Green Fuels plant,” said Dr. Schubert, CEO of Strategic Biofuels. “It combines the required forestry waste feedstock for fuel production and the right geology for carbon sequestration within the State of Louisiana’s visionary legislative framework, which has been further strengthened by the Climate Initiative established by Governor Edwards. We are especially thankful for his signature on the recent $200 million tax-free bond allocation, which substantially advances the financing for this project.”

There are no wetlands, endangered species, or culturally sensitive areas on the site, the company has determined.

The plant is expected to produce about 83 percent renewable diesel and 17 percent renewable naphtha. Both are “drop-in fuels” that are chemically identical to fossil-derived diesel and naphtha but produce lower emissions than ultra-low-sulfur fossil-derived diesel fuel.

To complete the project, Louisiana Green Fuels would make a capital investment of at least $700 million. The company is completing feasibility and financing phases for the project in anticipation of a final investment decision by late 2022. Initial plant operations are planned for early to mid-2025.

The Louisiana Green Fuels plant would create 76 new direct jobs, with an average annual salary of more than $68,00. The Louisiana Economic Development agency estimates the project would result in an additional 412 new indirect jobs, for a total of nearly 500 new jobs in Caldwell Parish. During a 30-month building phase, the project would generate 450 construction jobs.

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