Ailing cellulosic producer explores sale

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, July 11, 2014

The operator of the nation’s first commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel plant revealed yesterday that it is exploring a sale in a bid to relieve its financial woes.

KiOR Inc. told the Securities and Exchange Commission in a filing that it has hired financial advisory firm Guggenheim Securities LLC to explore a possible sale, merger or restructuring.

“The company cannot provide assurance that a transaction of any kind will occur and has not set a timetable to take any of these actions,” KiOR said.

The announcement by KiOR comes even as the state of Mississippi has given it a four-month reprieve in the form of a loan extension on its $69.4 million debt (Greenwire, July 7).

Last year, KiOR was heralded as the beginning of the domestic cellulosic biofuel industry when it began producing the nation’s first commercial quantities of cellulosic gasoline and diesel at its 13-million-gallon-a-year plant in Mississippi.

But the company never managed to get on solid financial footing or reach its full capacity at the $225 million plant. Plagued by structural design bottlenecks, reliability issues and mechanical problems, the Columbus plant produced 894,000 gallons of cellulosic biofuel by the end of the year (Greenwire, March 18).

KiOR has idled the plant and earlier this year began laying off workers. As of March 31, it had accumulated a deficit of $604.9 million, according to its latest quarterly report.