Biofuel-blending facility in store for Duluth?

The Duluth Seaway Port Authority isn’t naming names yet, but commissioners were informed this morning that the Twin Ports are in the running to attract a biofuel-blending facility.

“We are on the short list for an alternative fuel facility,” said Andy McDonough, business development director for the Port Authority. What’s more, McDonough said that the detailed queries the potential developer has been making about rail rates and other aspects of a Port Authority-owned property lead him to believe that Duluth is “close to the top of that list.”

If Duluth gets the nod, the fuel company is expected to bring a minimum of 15 jobs to the community, according to McDonough.

The prospective company is looking at a now-vacant building located at the Clure Marine Terminal opposite a Murphy Oil tank farm on Port Terminal Road. It was formerly home to Yocum Oil Co., which also blended fuel there.

One of the biggest selling points of the property is its rail access. The building boasts its own rail spur, providing direct access to the building.

McDonough said the company expects to transport product by rail and truck. Eventually marine movements could be part of the mix, as well.

The fuel company currently has operations on the East Coast, but has shown strong interest in the Twin Ports. McDonough said there may be opportunities for the company to partner with Iron Range mines and the Murphy Oil refinery in Superior.

“Apparently there are enough potential big users around here to make this look like a worthwhile place to be,” he said.

McDonough said the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion — called APEX for short — introduced the Port Authority brought the potential opportunity for this fuel project to his attention about a month ago. He expects the company will decide whether to move forward with a Duluth facility in the next 30 days or so.