Last updated: March 15. 2014 7:49PM - 1242 Views
By Heather Rutz hrutz@civitasmedia.com

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LIMA — Lima Energy’s long-in-the-works project will move another step forward with a hearing Tuesday on a draft air permit-to-install-and-operate.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has issued the draft permit for Lima Energy’s proposed proposed ultra-clean synthetic crude oil plant at the former Lima Locomotive Works, 1046 S. Main St. The session starts at 6:30 p.m. at City Council chambers, 50 Town Square. At the meeting, Ohio EPA will present information about the permit and answer questions; the public can also submit comments regarding the permit and project.

If approved, the permit would allow for the construction of the Lima Energy facility. The Lima Energy plant would use what the company calls ultra-clean BTU conversion gasification technology to convert solid hydrocarbons — such as renewable resources, bio-feeds, petroleum coke or coal — into synthetic crude and synthetic gas. The company submitted its air permit application in October.

In the past year, the project has seen more progress than much of the decade-plus it’s been in the works. The city acquired the property in 1999. In October 2012 the city of Lima sold the 63-acre site to Lima Energy for $1.5 million and in November, officials held a groundbreaking there.

About a year ago, a massive mountain of gravel formed at the site, as crews began grinding up concrete foundations from the former Lima Locomotive Works site. Recycling the foundation to use for the new facility is continuing between Metcalf and South Main streets. While the company anticipated about 140,000 tons of concrete, it’s ended up with more than 170,000 tons, which will be used as fill and grading at the site.

That work is the start of the first phase of the ultraclean converter plant and the construction of the Technology Innovation Center. The center along South Main Street will be the home of the company’s administration facility, research and development laboratories, auditorium, conference center and cleantech showroom. The first phase of the project calls for 70 employees, all new full-time jobs with benefits, to operate.

After years of making little progress securing financing for the project, Lima Energy finally had a catalyst in September 2012 that led to the groundbreaking: the infusion of $35 million in debt financing from Toronto-based Third Eye Capital, along with $11 million in an equity investment from Global Energy Inc. for the $2 billion project.

Lima Energy already has a buyer for its synthetic crude lined up, neighbor Husky Energy’s Lima Refinery. The contract calls for the supply of 80 million barrels of synthetic crude to Husky over 10 years.

Lima Energy also may be able to buy feedstock and petroleum coke from Husky that could be delivered by rail car or conveyor belt. The company plans to sell a byproduct, carbon dioxide, for enhanced oil recovery efforts in eastern Ohio. It would be shipped by a pipeline, which would require permits and construction.

The company also wants to store remaining carbon dioxide in the ground near Lima.

Primary production of the Lima Energy Project, when fully operational, has been designed to produce 8 million barrels of oil equivalent, 47 billion cubic feet per year of synthetic natural gas and 516 megawatts net of electrical power.

The federal Clean Air Act and its amendments regulate the type and quantity of materials that may be discharged to the air. The maximum allowable emission levels are designed to protect human health and the environment. These levels would be set in permits issued by Ohio EPA.

Ohio EPA will accept written comments on the draft permit through March 24. Anyone may submit comments or request to be on the mailing list for information. Ohio EPA will take all public comments into consideration before deciding whether to issue or deny the permit.

To comment or receive information on the draft air permit, write to Mark Barber, Division of Air Pollution Control, Ohio EPA Northwest District Office, 347 N. Dunbridge Road, Bowling Green, OH 43402, or email mark.barber@epa.ohio.gov. The application and other related materials can be made available for review at Ohio EPA’s Northwest District Office by calling 419-352-8461. The draft permit also is available online.

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