Company plans to use Osage silos
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Sep 16, 2013, 11:52
HOPEWELL — Earlier this year, it was announced that the Appomattox Bio Energy Plant in Hopewell was bought by Future Fuels, LLP, based in Great Britain for $13 million. When Ged Russell, Technical Director for Vireol Bio-Industries, PLC, came to the city to take a look at the plant, he announced that the plant would be taken apart and shipped overseas to England to be used to build a plant, almost identical to Osage, to produce bio-fuel. While that plan is still in play, Russell said the parts that are not being shipped to England will get some use in the city.
Scoular Company, based in the Midwest, signed an agreement with Vireol to lease the one-million bushel grain terminal on the plant site. Russell said the terminals will not be used for the plant in England and therefore wanted to put them to use in Hopewell.
“It is really good for them [Scoular],” Russell said of the new agreement, in which negotiations began in May. “It is quite an attractive facility.”
Russell said a need was present in the community for a “large, fast, modern” grain terminal.
The announcement from Scoular comes just weeks after the company purchased the grain operations of R.O. Mayes Co. in Petersburg, according to a press release sent out by the company.
“We’re open, ready for business, and prepared to get farmers unloaded and back to the fields in a hurry this harvest,” said Scoular manager Brad Stewart in the press release.
Russell said one of the most attractive aspects to get Scoular to sign the agreement was the unloading speed of the terminal, which is 30,000 bushels per hour.
Though the original timeline had Vireol beginning to ship pieces of the plant this summer, Russell said the time has passed to ship the materials and the plan stands to be picked up again next summer.
Russell said the company did not want to rush the process and wanted to make sure the equipment was in the best possible condition before putting it on a ship to move it across the ocean. Now that the company has made the decision on what is going to stay and what is going to go, Russell said there are other parts of the plant that are open for business, so to speak.
“We continue to look for business,” Russell said. “There is a really sophisticated milling building. ... This is a big facility that could be useful. A lot of options are opening up to us. There is a strong sense ... and desire to make use of what is available here to the local community to do something useful.”
In the press release, Scoular explains the exact process of storing corn at the plant site, a process that will help local farmers.
“Scoular is buying grain for both the Hopewell and Petersburg locations. Farmers can contract corn or soybeans with Scoular, selling it for immediate or future delivery at Hopewell or Petersburg. Contracted grain can be sold or delivered if farmers want to make their own hauling arrangements, or Scoular will buy grain picked up on the farm and provide the trucks. Farmers can also haul their corn or soybeans to either location at any time, selling the grain load by load as they bring it in,” the press release reads.
Russell, proud to make the announcement, said he wants Vireol to be a part of the Hopewell community. Though it may be a small gesture, a Vireol sign will be placed at the plant in the coming days.
“We want to be part of the community, to stay,” Russell said. “... We have just had so much encouragement, it was a no-brainer.”
Russell said this partnership with Scoular is just a first step for the plant and said Vireol is also working to get other companies in to make use of other areas of the plant.
As he looked out the window of his office at the three terminals that have started to become filled with corn, Russell said the time has come to give Osage a new future, void of negativity.
“There has been a positive message of support, and people involved, to help us look at options,” Russell said. “There is a positive business culture here. What we’re finding is an opportunity for a long-term future for the site. We will proudly put our name on the gate and hopefully lose the negative connotations that come with the Osage name. This is a new-found business that will be ongoing in the community.”