US oil refining firm Continental Refining Company (CRC) is set to convert its Somerset oil refinery to process soyabeans and produce biofuels, the company announced on 18 November.

If the project is approved, CRC’s parent company Hemisphere said production at the Kentucky site would be expected to begin by October 2021.

The US$25M plans would include the installation of a soyabean crushing, biodiesel refining and blending facility.

CRC plans to produce Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD), biodiesel ranging from B6 to B100, high protein fibre meal for animal feed, soyabean oil for industrial use and crude glycerine.

The crushing facility would process nearly 3M bushels/year of soyabean while its biodiesel refining division would produce 18.9M litres/year.

“Like many rural parts of America, the Pulaski County region has industries and institutions that rely on diesel fuels. And because Kentucky is ranked 15th in the nation for soyabean production, the region also has the raw materials and technology to make biodiesel at a scale that reflects the local and regional demand,” said Hemisphere CEO Demetrios Haseotes.

The company said it had consulted with local soyabean producers, who were enthusiastic about the project.

“We look forward to investing in the future of energy production that actually creates beneficial by-products we can in turn can sell, like high-protein fibre meal for poultry and livestock,” he added.

Haseotes purchased the refinery in 2011, investing over US$40M in updating and improving the facility’s crude oil refining capabilities.

Hemisphere is a management company headquartered in Somerset, Kentucky, and is active in a range of industries including agriculture, oil refining, petroleum storage and distribution, real estate, maritime ship management and aviation.