A Southern California renewable energy company announced Friday it has purchased the former Big West refinery on Rosedale Highway for $40 million — the same price paid the last time the property changed hands 10 years ago.
Global Clean Energy Holdings Inc., a publicly traded company based in Torrance, said in a news release it plans to convert the property during the next 18 to 20 months so it can be used to produce biodiesel derived from a crop called camelina and other feedstocks including used cooking oil and soybean oil.
No petroleum products are expected to be refined at the mothballed property, which used to be a significant buyer of locally produced oil.
The refinery has not run for 12 consecutive months since 2012. It had been producing nearly 70,000 barrels per day of diesel and gasoline, most recently by using a refining byproduct hauled in from southern Los Angeles County. At least 200 good-paying jobs were lost when owner Dallas-based Alon USA Energy Inc. decided against reopening the facility in late 2014 or early 2015.
GCEH bought the refinery from Alon's owner, Delek US Holdings.
Biodiesel refined at the property is expected to meet the California Low Carbon Fuels Standard. If the plan succeeds it would expand Kern's strategic economic focus on renewable energy and agriculture.
The work of turning the refinery into a biodiesel plant will be done by ARB Inc., a subsidiary of Lake Forest-based Primoris Services Corp. That process is estimated to employ 100 union workers.
Among other partners involved in the project, an unnamed "multi-national oil major" has been selected to help distribute the refined biodiesel, the buyer noted.
GCEH CEO Richard Palmer said in the news release the company sees the project as leveraging the region's "core competencies in agriculture and both traditional and alternative energy."
“We expect that this project will be a catalyst for economic development and will generate both direct and indirect job opportunities in Kern County and the region,” Palmer stated.