• Ron Kotrba

Marathon converts Cincinnati biodiesel plant to renewable diesel pretreatment facility


Marathon Petroleum Corp. revealed during its fourth-quarter earnings call Feb. 2 that the company has converted its Cincinnati Renewable Fuels biodiesel plant to a feedstock pretreatment facility for its growing renewable diesel production portfolio. Feedstock pretreatment operations in Cincinnati began last month, according to Marathon.


The Cincinnati plant, which Marathon bought in 2014, was capable of producing 91 million gallons a year (mgy) of biodiesel. Now, the site can pretreat 2,000 barrels of feedstock a day, or roughly only 30 mgy, for its operating 184 mgy renewable diesel facility in Dickinson, North Dakota. Biobased Diesel Daily reached out to Marathon for more information on the Cincinnati biodiesel plant conversion, but no response was received by the time of publication.


In 2020, Marathon bought an idled biodiesel plant in Beatrice, Nebraska, to use for feedstock pretreatment. The converted facility began operating early last year and although Marathon’s website says the site can process up to 58 mgy of feedstock, company executives on the Feb. 2 call said it can pretreat 3,000 barrels a day, or up to 46 mgy, for transport to the Dickinson plant.


The company is also converting its Martinez, California, petroleum refinery to produce 260 mgy of renewable diesel this year and 730 mgy in 2023. In its fourth-quarter earnings call, Marathon disclosed that half of its total 2022 growth-capital spending is going toward the Martinez conversion.


The total project cost is approximately $1.2 billion. Marathon has spent $300 million to date on the conversion. The company has earmarked $700 million for spending there this year and another $200 million in 2023.


Equipped already with three hydroprocessing units, two hydrogen plants and a power cogeneration facility, what Marathon is spending most of its capital expenditures on in Martinez is feedstock pretreatment.


Marathon anticipates having its California Environmental Quality Act permit in hand by end of first quarter, after which it will be ready to begin construction work. Equipment such as pipes, pilings and vessels are already on-site.


In December, Marathon closed on its joint-venture deal with Archer Daniels Midland Co. to build North Dakota’s first soy-crush plant in Spiritwood. Beginning next year, Marathon will secure all the soybean oil produced at the crush plant, which is about 5,000 barrels a day (roughly 70 mgy), for shipment to Dickinson.

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