Troubled Spanish renewable energy firm Abengoa SA has agreed to sell its Rotterdam ethanol plant and four first-generation ethanol facilities in the USA as part of its restructuring to avoid bankruptcy.

Brussels-based ethanol production and trading company Alcogroup and its partners confirmed on 17 June that they had signed an agreement to buy Abengoa’s Rotterdam plant, which is currently closed.

“The Rotterdam plant is one of the largest European biorefineries with an annual production capacity of 480M litres of ethanol for fuel use and 360,000 tonnes of DDGS (Dried Distilled Grain with Solubles),” Alcogroup said, adding that it aimed to restart the plant this year.

“Both the Rotterdam plant and our Alco Bio Fuel facility in Ghent, Belgium, can achieve significant greenhouse gas savings.”

Algogroup’s partners in the deal are commodity trader and distributor Groep Vanden Avenne Commodities and Vandema. Alco Bio Fuel is one of Belgium's major biorefineries, processing grain (mostly corn and wheat) into bio-ethanol, DDGS, electricity, liquid CO2, and a number of other by-products, such as corn oil.

In the USA, Abengoa Bioenergy US Holdings and certain of its direct and indirect subsidiaries filed papers on 12 June at the US Bankruptcy Court in St Louis for permission to auction four of its Midwestern ethanol plants in August for at least US$350M.

Green Plains Inc has offered US$200M for Abengoa’s Mount Vernon, Indiana, and Madison, Illinois plants. An affiliate of KAAPA Inc bid US$115M for Abengoa’s Ravenna plant in Nebraska; and BioUrja Trading has offered US$35M for its York, Nebraska plant.

Abengoa started insolvency proceedings in November last year and is selling its non-core assets, including all its first-generation biofuel plants, as part of a restructuring to avoid bankruptcy.

On 10 March, it agreed a draft rescue plan in which creditors would cut debt and inject Euro1.3bn into the company over five years. The deal still needs to be approved by creditors holding at least three-quarters of Abengoa’s debt by 28 October.