Renewable diesel revives refinery on Rosedale
A major industrial property that has sat idle for years in the heart of Bakersfield is coming back to life to refine used cooking oil, rendered animal fats and a canola-related grain called camelina. Torrance-based biofuels company Global Clean Energy Holdings Inc. is refurbishing equipment and ramping up hiring so by the end of this year it can fire up part of the former Big West refinery on Rosedale Highway.
The plan is to start at 15,000 barrels per day — more than 25,000 gallons per hour — of renewable diesel. As a petroleum refinery it processed almost three times that volume until it was shut down about eight years ago by a former owner, Dallas-based Alon USA Energy Inc. Not including contractors or vendors, about 115 employees are expected to work on the site once preparations are complete. That’s roughly half what the refinery employed previously. Also, most of the new activity will be limited to the southernmost portion of the complex. But the new owner, having paid $40 million for the complex last year after securing $365 million in financing for the project, hopes to boost production even as it expects to demolish or sell off some 85 percent of the refinery’s equipment.
A senior executive said the company’s also looking at the feasibility of covering part of the more than 400-acre property with photovoltaic solar panels that would help reduce the operation’s carbon footprint. Local observers say Global Clean Energy’s efforts point to a bright future for Kern County’s economic diversification and transition to greater production of bioenergy serving California’s climate goals. “This is exactly what we need, basically retooling these facilities to expand our capabilities in renewable fuels,” said Nick Ortiz, president and CEO of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce.