Abengoa’s ethanol plant near Wichita closed as owner files bankruptcy

Source: BY DAN VOORHIS, Wichita Eagle • Posted: Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Abengoa has shut down its two Kansas ethanol plants, in Colwich and in Hugoton, according to local officials.

The Spanish company with operations worldwide filed for legal protection Nov. 25 because of heavy debts. Messages left for several company officials were not returned Tuesday.

Colwich Mayor Terry Spexarth said the company had shut down the Colwich grain ethanol plant about two weeks ago.

At the time of Abengoa’s filing Nov. 25, a plant employee told The Eagle that the plant was closed for seasonal maintenance. On Tuesday, Spexarth said the plant hasn’t reopened. He estimated it cost about 20 jobs.

The company closed the plant in 2011 when the drought drove up the cost of grain sorghum, but it restarted operations there in September 2014. It’s a small plant by industry standards, with a capacity to produce 25 million gallons of ethanol per year.

The company also closed down its cutting-edge cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, which opened about a year ago.

Neal Gillespie, economic director for Stevens County, said the plant laid off about 45 workers, leaving about six employees. The plant had already been closed down for the season, but he said the company earlier told him it would restart in the spring.

Abengoa said publicly after its filing that its ethanol plants would continue to operate.