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  • Vertex Energy Inc.

Vertex Energy cuts ribbon on renewable diesel unit at Mobile, Alabama, refinery


Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey cuts the ribbon with Vertex Energy CEO Benjamin P Cowart at a ceremony April 28 celebrating the opening of Vertex’s renewable diesel production unit in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo: Business Wire)

Vertex Energy Inc. cut the ribbon April 28 on its first renewable diesel facility at the company’s Mobile refinery and the first renewable diesel facility in Alabama.


The ceremony also served as a commissioning event, with Vertex leaders and team members joined by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.


Merceria Ludgood, the Mobile County commissioner, Bradley Byrne, president of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, were also in attendance along with other special guests.


In 2022, Vertex acquired a petroleum refinery from Shell plc, immediately launching a $115 million conversion project.


The primary aim of this project was to convert a standalone unit within the refinery to facilitate the production of renewable diesel.


The project reached mechanical completion March 31.


Initial volumes are planned to be between 114 million gallons and 143 million gallons per year (mgy), with production volumes anticipated to subsequently ramp up to approximately 200 mgy upon installation of additional required infrastructure.


The newly converted renewable diesel unit is specifically designed to produce renewable diesel fuel, which can be seamlessly integrated as a direct replacement for traditional petroleum diesel.


At present, soybean oil serves as the primary feedstock for the production process.


However, the facility has been engineered to accommodate the use of other organic waste oils in the future.


Alabama’s soybean farmers will play a crucial role in supplying the feedstock, along with other suppliers across the country.


The collaboration between Vertex and these suppliers is expected to help strengthen the local agricultural sector and help foster a stable transition to renewable energy sources.


The commissioning of Vertex’s renewable diesel unit marks a significant milestone in the company’s ongoing journey toward providing sustainable energy solutions.


Furthermore, this project, together with Vertex’s commitment to continue supporting existing infrastructure through conventional fuels production, seeks to provide stability around the energy transition in a way that promotes energy security while underscoring the company’s commitment to environmental responsibility.


“We’re not just cutting ribbons, we’re cutting emissions,” said Vertex CEO Benjamin P. Cowart. “We’re also carving a new path for this site, this city and the great state of Alabama. The opportunity to bring this kind of innovation to my hometown and the state of Alabama is incredibly meaningful. I believe this is just the beginning, as we progress on our commitment to a cleaner environment by creating a sustainable growth path for the energy transition.”


To support the local community during the upgrade of the refinery, Vertex worked closely with local engineering firms and other contractors.


The project resulted in an estimated $4 million in local-workforce spending and the support of 600 construction jobs, as the team achieved over 450,000 work hours without any OSHA reportable incidents.


Vertex’s safety-incentive program, which allows Vertex employees and contractors to allocate dollars to Make-A-Wish Alabama for every OSHA injury-free workday completed during the turnaround, reached its target of 12 wishes granted for a total of $120,000.


The governor called the project “a testament to Alabama’s ingenuity and resilience,” highlighting Vertex’s embrace of new technologies while providing the traditional fuels on which Alabamians depend, and the company’s ability to support and maintain 200-plus Alabama jobs and grow them by another 5 percent to date.


Ivey also underscored the additional benefits of providing price support for Alabama farmers.


“By sourcing feedstock locally within our own state, Vertex fosters economic growth opportunities from farm-to-facility and offers low-carbon fuel products that contribute to a cleaner environment, not only here in our beautiful Alabama, but across the nations where these products are sold,” the governor added.

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