The Continental Refining Company (CRC) announced on Wednesday a new multi-million dollar expansion that will transform the oil refinery into a state-of-the-art AgriTech plant.
CRC is moving forward with plans to invest an additional $20 million to acquire and install a soybean crushing, biodiesel refining and blending facility at the current refinery. CRC has completed its evaluation of the project feasibility and is currently making progress with detailed design, equipment procurement, permitting, and construction of a soybean processing facility, biodiesel plant, and a fuels terminal.
The ability to produce biofuels and soy-based products in Somerset will open new markets while providing farmers, CRC’s customers, vendors, investors and the community a solid AgriTech business opportunity that provides a positive economic impact for the entire region. CRC products will include: soy meal, soy oil, soy hulls, biodiesel ranging from B6 to B100, crude glycerin, gasoline, and other products. CRC’s transformational concept has been well received by the local, regional, and state community as well as suppliers of raw materials and customers of the CRC products. CRC has garnered the support of Pulaski, Wayne and Adair County Agriculture Development Councils.
Local entrepreneur and Hemisphere Limited CEO Demetrios Haseotes purchased the refinery in 2011, investing over $60 million updating and improving the facility’s crude oil refining capabilities. Haseotes will now shift his focus to soybeans as the future of diesel energy production and additives at his Continental refinery.
“The Southcentral and Southeastern regions of Kentucky have industries and institutions that rely on diesel fuels, and because Kentucky is a leader in the nation for soybean production, the region also has the raw materials and technology to make biodiesel at a scale that reflects the local and regional demand,” Haseotes said. “We have consulted with local, progressive Soybean producers, taken their input and they are very encouraged about the project. We look forward to investing in the future of energy production that actually creates beneficial biproducts we can in turn sell, like high-protein fiber meal for poultry and livestock.
“Our new operation will provide energy for animal and machine, the perfect complement to our regional economy,” Haseotes added.
The conversion of Continental’s Somerset facility is already well under way. CRC has initiated the permitting process with the Kentucky Division of Environmental Protection (KDEP). The biodiesel plant has been procured and engineering services are currently being performed to develop the plans necessary for installation. It’s anticipated startup is in the 4th Quarter of 2021, along with a new fuels terminal that is currently being designed with equipment procurement and installation to follow. The soybean processing equipment is deep into its design phase with equipment procurement and installation soon to follow and anticipated startup in the 1st Quarter of 2022. Haseotes expects to receive and begin processing soybeans next January.
SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler congratulated CRC Grain & Biofuel and Haseotes on the company's innovative approach to transforming the Somerset refinery.
"Demetrios is one of the most innovative and aggressive businessmen I've ever been around and his love of agriculture is real," Girdler said. "Combining those two traits will prove to be a winner for Continental's latest endeavor and prove to be a tremendous help to our farmers, landowners, and the overall economy. On behalf of Somerset and Pulaski County, we are so thankful that Demetrios chose our community as his home and we appreciate his continued investment and his help of so many of our fellow citizens."
The project would create up to 20 new jobs with an annual payroll of over $1.2 million and an average salary range of approximately $18-20 per hour. To date, CRC has hired five of the needed 20 employees with plans to hire six more by this summer, with the rest coming on board in the 4th Quarter of 2021.
This revitalization process will process nearly four million bushels of soybean per year (84,000 tons) while its biodiesel refining division is planned to generate up to five million gallons per year. CRC’s product terminal will have the ability to distribute over 130 million gallons of product.
The company will utilize local businesses to provide soybean feedstock that will be refined into biodiesel fuels to support the farm, school and community fuel needs of Pulaski County and surrounding regions.
Biodiesel is a domestically produced, clean-burning, renewable substitute for petroleum diesel that, according to CRC, increases energy security, improves air quality and the environment, and provides safety benefits.
The revitalized facility will have a significant economic impact, as it relies heavily on a network of producers and has the potential to develop ancillary business opportunities through the supply chain that includes local producers, equipment and machinery manufacturers, other value-added agriculture processors, and businesses in the construction and logistics service sectors to name a few.
CRC is located on 77 acres in the heart of Somerset. More information about Continental Refining Company may be found at www.conrefco.com.