Construction of one of the state’s most-discussed energy projects will begin in about a year, according to documents filed by the company doing the building.
DKRW Advanced Fuels formally submitted new plans for construction of its coal gasification plant near Medicine Bow Wednesday afternoon. The Houston-based company pulled an earlier version of its plan in March, prompting the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council to set Wednesday as a deadline for resubmission.
The new plan includes a construction start date — July 1, 2014 — and plans a four-year build, meaning the final touches on the plant could be done by 2018. The $1.75 billion plant would eventually convert coal from the nearby Saddleback Hills mine into 11,700 barrels of gasoline each day, and would also create carbon dioxide for sale and use in oil recovery.
“We are proud to be working with the State and several of its departments and agencies on this project,” K. Wade Cline, company vice president of construction and general counsel, wrote in a letter to the Industrial Siting Division Wednesday. “We look forward to continuing to work together on this important project.”
Luke Esch, administrator of the Industrial Siting Division, said he hadn’t had time to review the documents Thursday morning. Although not mandatory, the council has the option to call DKRW to a formal hearing for consideration of the new plan.
“It’s likely that this will be going to a meeting of the council,” Esch said, adding that he doesn’t expect the council to discuss DKRW’s project at a scheduled meeting Monday.
The first half of 2013 has been eventful for the project. A company attorney asked that an existing construction schedule and socioeconomic analysis — requirements of a state permit — be withdrawn in March after the company’s contractor indicated its inability to begin work near Medicine Bow on time.
Within days of the withdrawal, the division declared the project “out of compliance” and gave DKRW until June 19 to file the information again. The company indicated all along that it planned to meet that deadline, which it did Wednesday.
Filed along with the new construction schedule is a 184-page revised socioeconomic analysis of the project and its affect on the surrounding area, including Casper, Rawlins and Laramie.
Many of the facts in the report are consistent with those already declared by the company. Peak construction should still demand somewhere around 1,900 workers, with an average of 972 per quarter over a four-year build.
The company expects to hire 435 full-time workers to man the facility during regular operation — 285 to run the coal mine and 150 to run the coal-to-gas plant. Employment at both facilities would make up a $35 million payroll. The company also expects to spend about $200 million every year on operations and maintenance.
Some impacts on the surrounding area — especially Hanna, Elk Mountain, Medicine Bow, Laramie and Rawlins — will be substantial.
At its peak in mid-2015, project construction will demand nearly 2,000 employees, about half of whom will stay in a company-built man camp. The other 900 will stay in temporary housing off-site, primarily hotels and campgrounds or RV parks.
According to the company’s study, about 639 hotel rooms and 129 RV park sites or campsites will be needed to accommodate the employees. As many as 10 hotels and four campsites have already committed to housing the workers.
Because of the high number of staff and the likelihood that many will have to travel to the work site, DKRW will also build and staff a 24-hour medical clinic at its coal gasification site.
The project has faced several doubters, largely because of the length of time needed to gather financing. Some have also expressed concerns about the company’s mining plan, water use and other effects on the environment.
Cline told the Star-Tribune Thursday that his company needs to finalize several aspects of the project before construction, including lining up a construction workforce and finalizing financing. Refiling documents to become compliant was an important step.
“We’re very happy to get this construction schedule in,” Cline said. “Our goal is to actually get construction on the plant under way so we can get the plant started.”