Former Somerset Refinery, now Continental Refining Company (CRC), may take on new life.
Demetrios Haseotes, CEO of Hemisphere Limited LLC, parent company of CRC, after announcing a couple of months ago CRC would not resume refining crude oil said Tuesday he is exploring plans to invest an additional $25 million to acquire, relocate and install a soybean crushing, biodiesel refining and blending facility at the current CRC oil refinery located off Monticello Street in Somerset.
This revitalization process would include acquisition and installation of its soybean crushing and biodiesel facility. CRC's crushing facility would process nearly three million bushels of soybeans per year (168 million pounds) while its biodiesel refining division would generate five million gallons per year as planned.
CRC would create up to 20 new jobs with an annual payroll of more than $1.2 million and an average salary range of approximately $18-$20 per hour.
Ability to produce biofuels and soy-based products in Somerset would 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.
"Like many rural parts of America, the Pulaski County region has industries and institutions that rely on diesel fuels. And because Kentucky is ranked No.15 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," Haseotes adds. "Our new operation will provide energy for animal and machine, the perfect complement to our regional economy," he said
Haseotes purchased financially troubled Somerset Refinery in 2011. Refining operations resumed in January 2013 after Somerset Refinery had been shut down for about three years.
The refinery nearly two years ago again ceased production and announced a two-phase transition that would include a $75 million investment to reconfigure and upgrade every single unit of the plant. Haseotes said the company has spent in excess of $40 million since he bought the refinery.
Although he has been known as an oil man for the last several decades, agriculture is the root of his family's business empire and runs deep in Haseotes' blood. He was reared on the family's Rhode Island dairy farm that grew to become the Massachusetts-based Cumberland Farms convenience store chain with 1,000 sites in eight states. The family also owned the Gulf Oil brand and distributed petroleum products. While those businesses were sold in recent years, Haseotes started Midland Farms in 2002, now a large New York-based fluid dairy processor. He moved to Pulaski County in 2012 and may soon shift his focus to soybeans as the future of diesel energy production and additives at his Continental refinery.
Continental is exploring the opportunity to convert the Somerset facility and purchase the equipment necessary to process soybeans. If the project is a go, Haseotes expects to receive and process soybeans by October 2021.
CRC intends to generate income by engaging in the sales of the below listed products and services:
• ULSD (Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel) both on road and off road
• Biodiesel ranging from B6 to B100
• High-protein fiber meal for animal feed (targeting the broiler chicken industry)
• Soybean oil for industrial use
• Crude glycerin
• 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. Using biodiesel as a vehicle fuel increases energy security, improves air quality and the environment, and provides safety benefits.
• The proposed in-state crushing facility aims to reduce costs for farmers, keep jobs in Kentucky, reduce wear and tear on infrastructure and contribute positively to the economies of Pulaski County and the greater Commonwealth.
• The revitalized facility is projected to 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. Beneficiaries include local producers, equipment and machinery manufacturers, other value-added agriculture processors, and businesses in the construction and logistics service sectors to name a few.
Earlier this year Haseotes consolidated headquarters of his far-flung business empire at the vacant First and Farmers National Bank building on Fountain Square in Downtown Somerset.