Automotive

Biofuels company could bring 20 permanent jobs, $1.8M in tax revenue

An expanding biofuels producer officially has selected a site in Beaumont as the new home for what it’s calling the “Spindletop Plant.”

Arbor Renewable Gas has set sights on a 53-acre industrial park property on Texas 347 at the border of Beaumont and Nederland.

“Just as the Spindletop area opened the door to the petroleum revolution in 1901, Arbor Gas and the City of Beaumont are reinventing the way transportation fuels are produced, and decarbonizing transportation fuel for all consumers of gasoline,” Timothy Vail, CEO of Arbor Gas, said in a statement.

The company expects to start construction on its new Spindletop Plant by the first half of 2022, with completion estimated for late 2023.

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In its tax abatement agreement approved by the Beaumont City Council in August, the company said the project could create 20 permanent jobs and bring an initial $325 million in local investment. Base annual salaries for permanent jobs were estimated at around $86,000.

During that abatement process, the company also presented the city with plans to build three more production units at the site by 2027, indicating it expected growth in demand for reduced-carbon biofuels to surge within the next few years.

The plant would take what the industry calls biomass — mostly ground wood pulp and organic waste in this case — and use it to produce crude feedstock gases that could meet the demand of other companies looking to make renewable gasoline or eventually, renewable hydrogen.

The entire lifetime investment of the project, at least planned by Arbor Renewable Gas so far, would add up to $1.15 billion in investments.

Beaumont’s share of the taxes on the project during its first phase would be around $1.8 million annually.

In its announcement, company representatives said the site was selected because of the region’s access to essential infrastructure and an experienced industrial workforce, but the company also can take advantage of the distance to East Texas pine forests and the lumber industry that will supply plenty of biomass.

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By 2024, the plant should be producing around 1,000 barrels per day of what is called “drop-in” renewable gasoline, according to the company.

A “drop-in” renewable biofuel is broadly a renewable energy source that can be generally used in already-existing engines without modification.

Arbor Gas has unveiled plans for at least three projects along the Gulf Coast, including a tentative site in Pasadena that could produce renewable hydrogen on an industrial scale.

Arbor has been backed by EnCap Investments and Mercuria Energy, according to the company.

EnCap Investments has traditionally been a equity capital provider for traditional oil and gas investments, backing mostly independent firms in upstream and midstream production.

Arbor Renewable Gas is now one of six transitional energy investments EnCap is pursuing, covering wind, solar and alternative fuel projects.

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Mercuria’s core business is sourcing and trading crude and refined projects, but it also deals with natural gas, biofuels and an array of other commodities.

It has also been diversifying its portfolio, and recently invested in lithium mining projects for electric vehicle build outs and initiatives to build regional renewable energy assets in Europe and Australia.

The Spindletop Plant and the city’s commitment to subsidizing its development could be a new step for Beaumont, as well, according to Mayor Robin Mouton.

The company had been working on a proposal with the city since Mouton’s election, but she told the Enterprise in August that she saw the project as a potential transition point for the kind of opportunities the city will need to attract as the country’s energy assets and needs continue to change.

“This is the direction that the country is headed — toward green jobs,” Mouton said in August. “Hopefully, it opens the door for the next company to see that Beaumont was right for that last project, maybe it can be right for them.”

Written by Jacob Dick

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