BOLO alert: Art, jewelry and P&IDs?

You never know what you might find when you buy a distressed plant.
By Ron Kotrba | September 22, 2011

An interesting presentation was given last week by Kevin Reilly, chief technology officer for AE Resources, at the biorefining conference in Houston on things to consider when buying a distressed first-gen biofuel asset for retrofit into a second-gen biorefinery. If you haven’t heard of AE Resources, it’s the company that funded research for and has exclusive rights to a biodiesel process using ultrasonic cavitation combined with microwave technology, which I wrote about last week (a story posted to the Biodiesel Magazine website titled “2 alternative biodiesel processes unveiled at Biorefining show”). 

Reilly said, “Be careful if you buy a biodiesel plant and then go switching stuff around as to not misuse things like pumps, valves …” which have different classifications (class 1 div 1, class 1 div 2, etc.). These items were installed under certain parameters and conditions specific to methyl ester production, so know what you are using and how it can be repurposed in your new endeavor. From pumps to diked storage tanks, Reilly said, “Make sure you know what all those systems are there for.”

He also pointed out to make sure you receive the title, process descriptions, piping and instrument diagrams, as-built drawings, records of the plant running, insurance policies, warranties, grants, allowances, ask why the plant failed—and find old staff, he said, because they can tell you more than anyone why a facility went out of business. Look for trucks, tankers, rail cars, shipping containers, car boys and freight containers that the company might have owned, that you might now be the new owner of. Even collections that you wouldn’t think of you should be on the lookout for, things such as art collections, jewelry, guns, airplanes, property in Trinidad, stocks, bonds and cash.

You’d be surprised, Reilly said, what some companies spend their money on.