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New tenant moves into biodiesel plant

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Matthew Weaver
TransMessis Columbia Plateau has moved into the biodiesel plant in Odessa, Wash., and expects to be operational by the end of November. CEO Damon Pistulka expects to reach full capacity in the first quarter of 2014.

A new company has taken over the biodiesel plant near Odessa, Wash., and its managers expect to be operational by the end of the month.

TransMessis Columbia Plateau (TCP) will produce biodiesel from canola, said CEO Damon Pistulka. The company is newly formed and backed by an investment group based in Houston, Texas, and several investors in Washington.

TCP is leasing the building from the Odessa Public Development Authority, with an option to purchase.

Pistulka said the company plans to produce 8 million gallons of biodiesel annually, and hopes the feedstock will eventually be locally sourced.

“We’ll use well over 50,000 tons (of canola) next year,” he said.

The facility is being cleaned and readied for production, he said. Pistulka expects to begin production by the end of November, and reach full capacity in the first quarter of 2014.

The facility was previously owned and operated by Inland Empire Oilseeds, LLC, which filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

The new tenant had to purchase the equipment in the facility, said Stacey Rasmussen, manager of the Odessa PDA.

Rasmussen said four companies had expressed interest in the facility.

“The people they were bringing to the table had a background in the industry, and they were also the most financially stable of all the people that were interested,” she said of TCP.

“It was a fairly long, carefully thought-out process,” said Odessa Public Development Authority President Clark Kagele, who is also a farmer. “It took a great deal of time for the whole thing to come together. We’re very pleased that it finally did.”

Kagele said the re-opening of the Odessa facility and a Pacific Coast Canola plant in Warden, Wash., should create a good market for canola.

Pistulka said the Warden plant serves the food market. TransMessis Columbia Plateau will not make food-grade oils.

The Odessa area is too dry to establish canola without irrigation, Kagele said, but it requires relatively little water.

“I put in a couple of circles and there’s numerous growers around me that have started growing for the first time,” he said.

Kagele tried growing canola in the early 2000s, but the price to truck it to processing plants in Canada was prohibitive.

“I think we’ll have a lot of farmers taking a little bit better look at it now,” he said.

Rasmussen said farmers can negotiate a contract with the company.

“The more (canola) we have in the region, the better,” she said. “Whatever (TCP) can’t get locally, they will supplement from the state and other regions in the United States.”

“We’re just happy to be able to come into the region,” Pistulka said. “We see this as a good opportunity for us and for the region. This is a facility that, if done properly, can make money for the long term.”



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