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Vertex Energy appoints James Rhame as its new COO

Vertex Energy appoints James Rhame as its new COO

Houston, Texas, U.S.A.-based Vertex Energy, Inc., has appointed James Rhame as chief operating officer (COO) effective June 10, 2022. Rhame succeeds John Strickland, who will transition into the newly created role of vice president, Black Oil Operations. Strickland, who will report to Rhame, will continue to provide both support and advisory to the company.

Rhame brings more than 40 years of refining and petrochemical management experience, most recently having served as vice president and general manager for Motiva Chemical, where he led the integration of the chemicals business into Motiva Enterprises. Motiva Enterprises owns and operates the Port Arthur Refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, U.S.A., the largest oil refinery in North America. The refinery also operates the largest single lube base oil plant in the United States.

Prior to Motiva, Rhame spent nearly 10 years with Flint Hills Resources, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, where he served in various senior leadership positions, including as vice president of Olefins and Polymers. Prior to Flint Hills, he worked with Shell for more than 23 years, where he was involved in several roles supporting its downstream operations, including production manager of the Port Arthur Refinery. Rhame also provided managerial support at Shell’s Mobile oil refinery.

As COO, Rhame will oversee all operations of the company while working to build Vertex into a leading energy transition business, equipped to generate sustained, profitable growth. He will report directly to Benjamin P. Cowart, President and CEO of Vertex Energy.

“James is a high-caliber addition to our senior leadership team. His decades of industry experience, commitment to operational excellence, and proven track record of driving strategic development initiatives make him the right person to help lead our business during this next important chapter of growth,” Cowart said. “As a former Shell executive familiar with our asset base, he will provide a wealth of knowledge and a steady hand as we further integrate the Mobile refinery into our portfolio.”

“I am honored to join Vertex as its next COO,” said Rhame. “It is a pivotal moment for the organization, a period of transformation during which we believe we are poised to become a leading independent refiner and producer of conventional and renewable products. Our cultural commitment to safety, accountability and operational excellence, together with our growing portfolio of high-performance energy transition assets, are anticipated to position us to win market share across the markets we serve in the years ahead.”

Vertex Energy is one of the largest processors of used motor oil in the U.S.A., with operations located in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas; Marrero, Louisiana; and Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A. Vertex also co-owns a facility, Myrtle Grove, located on a 41-acre industrial complex along the Gulf Coast in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, with existing hydro-processing and plant infrastructure assets that include nine million gallons of storage. The company has built a reputation as a key supplier of Group II+ and Group III base oils to the lubricant manufacturing industry throughout North America. 

In April 2022, Vertex Energy purchased Shell’s 91,000 barrel-per-day oil refinery in Mobile, Alabama, U.S.A. The company said it plans to invest USD85 million to modify the Mobile refinery’s hydrocracking unit to produce renewable diesel fuel on a standalone basis, producing 10,000 barrels per day (bpd) by year-end 2022, increasing to 14,000 bpd by mid-year 2023, while continuing to supply conventional fuels to the regional market at current rates.