A year after opening on the Houston Ship Channel, the nation’s biggest biodiesel plant has a “for sale” sign out on its lawn.
The Houston Chronicle reports that GreenHunter Energy is trying to find a buyer while it rearranges some financial obligations on the refinery:
GreenHunter hired an investment banking firm to look for a potential buyer for the 105 million gallon per year plant, the nation’s largest. The firm will also help find domestic or international partners, alternative financing, potential new equity capital and enough working capital to get the plant running again, the company said in a statement today.
The $70 million GreenHunter plant opened in June 2008 and was touted for its ability to make biodiesel from a variety of vegetable oils and animal fats, rather than being tied exclusively to expensive soybean oil, like many of its rivals.
At a grand opening ceremony last summer, Gov. Rick Perry said the project represented “the future of energy in Texas and the United States.”
But GreenHunter’s Houston plant has been idle since February amid weak domestic demand for the fuel, new trade barriers on U.S. biodiesel exports to Europe and low oil prices that have made renewables less competitive with petroleum based fuels, said Jack Zedlitz, a company spokesman. Last year, the plant also was temporarily forced to shut down after receiving damage from Hurricane Ike last September.
GreenHunter says by amending its credit agreement, the company hopes to survive its current financial problems.