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Natural Chem Group acquires Abengoa’s bioethanol plant in New Mexico

Natural Chem Group LLC, based in Houston, Texas, U.S.A., said that it has acquired the dormant Abengoa bioethanol plant in Portales, New Mexico. A sale price was not disclosed, but the plant, which had an annual capacity of 30 million gallons per year (MGPY) was last appraised at USD52 million, according to Natural Chem.

Built in 1984, the plant suspended operations in 2012. It is located in the Portales Industrial Park and was the state’s only commercial-scale ethanol plant.

Natural Chem acquired the property through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis, Mo. The sale was approved after Abengoa Bioenergy US Holding, LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief on behalf of itself and five of its U.S. bioenergy subsidiaries, in February. Its Spanish parent, Abengoa SA, filed for protection under article 5bis of Spain’s Insolvency Law in November 2015.

In August, Abengoa sold three of its ethanol plants to Omaha-based Green Plains Inc. at an auction. Green Plains bid USD237 million to purchase plants in Madison, Ill., Mount Vernon, Ind., and York, Neb., with a combined production capacity of 236 MGPY.

Natural Chem plans to redevelop the plant to produce biodiesel for transportation fuel. The plan is to produce 4.5 million gallons of B20 (20% biodiesel blend) per month.

“We look forward to beginning plant operations, creating jobs, providing revenue and boosting the local economy,” Robert Salazar, Natural Chem CEO and president, said. “We envision multiple uses for our Portales facility, involving renewable fuels and natural chemicals.”

Natural Chem was assisted in this acquisition by the Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck law firm’s Albuquerque and Denver offices. Financing was provided by Southwest Capital Bank and Natural Chem Holdings LLC.

Natural Chem has a 10-year plan to develop 15 of its Eco-Fuels™ Corridors in the United States to supply renewable and alternative fuels and chemicals, including biodiesel, diesel blends and LNG/CNG by developing plants at sites having suitable infrastructure. New Mexico, Idaho, Texas, California and Indiana have been identified by the company as priority locations.

The first Eco-Fuels™ Corridor to be developed is the “Southwest Eco-Fuels™ Corridor,” based in Portales. The second corridor may be the “Lewis & Clark Eco-Fuels™ Corridor,” based in Heyburn, Idaho, or the Gulf Coast Corridor based in Houston. These corridors will serve as a blueprint to develop additional corridors across the United States, according to Natural Chem’s website.