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Green Plains nearing contracts for Beaumont, Texas, ethanol terminal: CEO

Houston — US ethanol producer Green Plains is close to securing customer contracts for its upcoming import and export terminal near Beaumont, Texas, CEO Todd Becker said Tuesday.

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"The Jefferson import and export terminal is progressing well," Becker said during the company's first-quarter 2017 earnings call Tuesday. "We have confidence that ethanol exports will remain strong and are close to having customers engage in contracts."

The terminal should be "up and running in mid to late 2017," he added.

The terminal is a joint venture between Green Plains and Jefferson Gulf Coast Energy Partners.

When asked if Green Plains is planning a phase 2 expansion of the terminal, Becker said the company wants to see phase 1 under contract before talking about additional plans.

But he did say there's a "high probability of a Phase 2 expansion that would follow."

Previously, Becker said the first tanks at the terminal are expected to come online in July and will be ready for exports in the second half of the year.

Green Plains envisaged the project as a means of providing an alternative export hub in the Gulf of Mexico.

Becker has said the Beaumont location provides some logistical advantages over the Houston area.

Fog frequently shuts down the Houston Ship Channel, but the proposed Beaumont location is far enough north and east that it rarely sees the same problems.

Becker in 2016 also highlighted the terminal's access to three Class I railroads, which the US Surface Transportation Board defines as a railroad with annual operating revenues of $250 million or more, in 1991 dollars.

--Josh Pedrick,

--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh,