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New owner says Pratt ethanol plant to reopen in late spring
2013/1/15 8:55:17

An ethanol plant in Pratt closed since 2008 will reopen in late spring, an official with the Scoular Co. said Monday.

Omaha-based Scoular bought the shuttered 55 million-gallon-a-year ethanol plant, plus the adjacent railroad track and grain elevator, from Gateway Plant, LLC in 2011.

On Monday, Scoular announced that it had sold most of its interest in the plant to Pratt Biofuel Investors, a company newly formed by the investors behind a Pixley, Calif., ethanol plant, Calgren Renewable Fuels.

Lyle Schlyer, president of Calgren Renewable Fuels, was named president of ethanol plant, Pratt Energy.

Scoular retains full ownership of the track and elevator and a minority stake in the ethanol plant. It will procure all feedstock for the plant and market and ship the ethanol and distillers grains produced there.

Terms of the transaction were not announced.

John Heck, senior vice president with Scoular, said the plant closed in 2008.

Gateway later declared bankruptcy.

Although ethanol production in the U.S. has leveled off in the last few years, Heck said the market for ethanol isn’t bad.

“There is good demand for ethanol out of Kansas plants today,” he said. “If you look at the plants selling ethanol, they’re all busy. We think the long-term prospects for the plant are good.”

Scoular started work on the plant in the summer, but Pratt Biofuel has now taken over. Jerry Schroeder, formerly with Calgren and now with Pratt Biofuel, is managing the renovations and will become plant manager when it becomes operational.

Heck said Pratt Biofuel is looking for a few construction-related employees who might eventually become plant employees. More staff is expected to be hired closer to the plant re-opening.

Located on the Union Pacific Railroad, the plant can load 100-car trains of grain, dried distillers grains and ethanol. Scoular said the operation is part of its grain marketing network. Scoular has eight facilities in Kansas, including shuttle train loading facilities at Coolidge, Downs, Salina and Wellington. It employs more than 150 people in Kansas.

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