Owner of idled Kentucky petroleum refinery explores soy crush, 5 MMgy biodiesel plant
The parent company of Continental Refining Company LLC, Hemisphere Limited LLC, is exploring plans to invest $25 million to acquire, relocate and install a soybean crushing, biodiesel refining and blending facility at its current oil refinery in Somerset, Kentucky.
The project would entail acquisition and installation of a soybean crush and biodiesel manufacturing facility to process nearly 3 million bushels of soybeans per year and produce 5 MMgy of biodiesel.
Demetrios Haseotes, CEO of Hemisphere Ltd., purchased the refinery in 2011, investing more than $40 million updating and improving its petroleum processing capabilities. The oil entrepreneur's roots are not in petroleum, however, but rather they are in agriculture―having been raised on the family's Rhode Island dairy farm, which grew to become the Massachusetts-based Cumberland Farms convenience store chain with 1,000 sites in eight states. The family also owned the Gulf Oil brand and distributed petroleum products, according to Continental Refining.
"Like many rural parts of America, the Pulaski County region has industries and institutions that rely on diesel fuels," Haseotes said. "And because Kentucky is ranked No. 15 in the nation for soybean production, the region also has the raw materials and technology to make biodiesel at a scale that reflects the local and regional demand. We have consulted with local, progressive soybean producers, taken their input and they are very encouraged about the project. We look forward to investing in the future of energy production that actually creates beneficial byproducts we can in turn sell, like high-protein fiber meal for poultry and livestock. Our new operation will provide energy for animal and machine, the perfect complement to our regional economy."
The oil refinery, which was first opened in the 1930s, has been idled since early 2019 after an assessment indicated the need for $75 million in modernization upgrades, according to the company.