CWS to buy Western Biodiesel plant, convert to renewable diesel

By Ron Kotrba | November 22, 2016

Cielo Waste Solutions Corp. has signed a commercial purchase agreement with XR Resources Inc. to buy property in High River, Alberta, near Calgary, which includes a 16 MMly (4.2 MMgy) biodiesel plant formerly owned by Western Biodiesel Inc.

Don Allan, president and CEO of CWS, told Biodiesel Magazine that, once the purchase is complete, the new site will house CWS’s scaled-up thermal catalytic depolymerization (TCD) technology to produce renewable diesel from cellulosic-rich waste feedstock.

The facility was built in 2009 for CA$10.2 million (USD$7.55 million), said Allan. “It’s in good shape,” he said. “The plant shut down in 2013 and it only ran for maybe two years.”

The company says it will buy the property for $2.3 million, with 5 million common shares at 6 cents apiece and $2 million in cash. The purchase is subject to certain conditions, according to Cielo, including a financing condition, Cielo's ability to acquire required permits, and due diligence being completed by Cielo to its satisfaction on or before Feb. 7. The expected closing date is Feb. 28.

Allan said for four years CWS has operated a demonstration plant in Red Deer, Alberta, between Calgary and Edmonton, scaled at 50 liters (13.2 gallons) an hour. He added that the company plans to scale up its process to 2,000 liters an hour at the former Western Biodiesel plant, where the existing infrastructure will expedite the project. 

CWS also has a large site secured in Edmonton, which Allan said is located near fuel customers such as Shell and Suncor. “This is large enough to build 20 refineries similar in size to the Western Biodiesel plant,” he said, adding that the company has long-term feedstock and offtake agreements in place. Allan said the plan at the Edmonton site is to build out production modularly.

“We are 16 months from having Edmonton in revenue, so High River is a fast way to prove our technology,” Allan told Biodiesel Magazine. “We’ve been working on it for the past 13 years. We own the catalyst, which we developed over the past four years. We’ve spent $16 million—$9 million from my own family. It’s a public company and we’ve taken the risk out of this. No one is doing what we’re doing.”

He added that the company’s TCD technology to produce renewable diesel will soon be patent-protected.

With 80 percent of the financing secured for the High River purchase already, Allan said the goal is to be producing by end of 2017, provided permitting does not delay progress.

“Every developed country in the world has mandates for renewables,” Allan said. “Our renewable diesel is a solution for the obligated oil companies, so they don’t have to import their requirements.” 

CWS has already awarded construction contracts for the project. The fabrication work will be provided by Advanced Metal & Lyncorp Manufacturing Ltd., located just 3 miles north of the plant. The electrical and instrumentation work has been awarded to Electech Contracting Ltd. out of Calgary. Kwik-Fab Energy Services in Sundre, Alberta, will perform millwright work.

Kwik-Fab worked closely with CWS on maintenance services at its demo plant in Red Deer.

“It's been a great experience to work on the demo plant with Cielo and Don,” said Mark Haldane, vice president of operations at Kwik-Fab. “In addition to the opportunity to bring diversity into a new industry, it’s been particularly exciting to witness and be a part of this new technology. I believe it’s an excellent opportunity for us and everyone involved.”

CWS says the contracted construction companies have agreed to assist Cielo in financing the conversion of the Western Biodiesel refinery by deferring profits until the plant is operational and earning revenues.