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Planned Ohio GTL Facility Receives Key Permit

Velocys plc subsidiary Ashtabula Energy LLC has been issued a key wastewater discharge permit for its proposed gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in Northeast Ohio.

The company acquired the project in June 2014 after buying Pinto Energy LLC (see Shale DailyJune 25, 2014). The facility could be the Northeast's first small-scale GTL plant and the nation's second if plans advance as scheduled. Velocys, with joint venture partners Waste Management Inc., NRG Energy Inc. and Ventech Engineers International LLC are currently constructing the world's first small-scale GTL facility at Waste Management's East Oak Landfill in Oklahoma City (see Daily GPIMarch 25, 2014).

Planned for an 80-acre site near ports and refineries on Lake Erie in Ashtabula, OH, the 4,900 b/d facility would use Marcellus and Utica shale gas to make solvents, lubricants, waxes and transportation fuels.

The wastewater discharge permit was issued by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) last week. In March, OEPA issued a draft permit that called for public hearings and a public comment phase. The permit would allow the Ashtabula plant to discharge more than 1.6 million gallons/day of treated wastewater into Lake Erie, including treated cooling water, plant residuals and storm water. 

After a decision to increase the plant’s previously planned capacity from 2,800 b/d, Velocys said Wednesday it still needs to modify and revise its air permit before the project can go forward. It would also need “a number of minor permits” for construction and other aspects of the project.

The OEPA said stakeholders have 30 days to appeal Ashtabula Energy's permits. Velocys is expected to make a final investment decision by the end of the year. The company earlier this month suspended CEO Roy Lipski pending an investigation into allegations of "serious misconduct” (see Daily GPI, July 6).

Velocys, which develops, licenses and supplies small-scale GTL technology, would not operate its proposed plants, but rather provide technical assistance during their start-up. Velocys is pursuing development opportunities across the world, but it has said the United States has the most potential for its technology, where it is considering other small-scale facilities in the Appalachian, Williston and Denver-Julesburg basins (see Shale DailyMay 13). 

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