US KiOR expects high biofuel volumes, to focus on improvements

24 December 2013 17:50  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--KiOR's cellulosic fuels plant in Columbus, Mississippi, is expected to report its best production volumes in Q4 2013 but will focus on implementing improvements at the facility in Q1 2014, the US biofuel producer said on Tuesday.

KiOR anticipates Q4 production to total 410,000 gal, bringing full-year production to 920,000 gal. The ratio expected to be produced during the year is approximately 35% gasoline, 40% diesel and 25% fuel oil.

However, KiOR CEO Fred Cannon said the quarter's financial performance was negatively impacted by the federal regulation resulting in temporarily depressed pricing for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), or credits that demonstrate compliance with the US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The RFS was created in 2005 by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish an annual volume mandate for the amount of bio-based fuels blended into petroleum-based ones. In November, the EPA proposed to lower its mandate for 2014 from the scheduled 18.0bn gal of ethanol and other renewable fuels to 15.2bn gal.

Moving forward, KiOR said it plans to focus on bringing the facility to the levels of expected operational and financial performance, continue to develop our technology to improve yields and process improvements, as well as manage costs.

"To that end, from now through the end of the first quarter of 2014, we expect that our efforts at Columbus will be focused on implementing a series of mechanical improvements to the facility rather than production volumes," Cannon said. "We plan to operate the facility on a limited campaign basis only to verify the expected impact of improvements we intend to implement."

KiOR is now part of a federal class action lawsuit filed in August, alleging that the company and its officers violated US securities law and misled investors about the business and its operations. It had projected that second-quarter fuel production at the facility would be 300,000-500,000 gal, but later, it announced production reached only 75,000 gal.

Additionally, KiOR announced in September that it is pursuing a $225m (€164m) project to build a second cellulosic fuel plant that would double capacity at the Columbus site.

($1 = €0.73)

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By: Tracy Dang
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