White Energy idles Texas ethanol plant, citing poor margins

A White Energy ethanol plant in Plainview, Texas, that has been idled since Jan. 7 will remain closed through March and possibly until the last quarter of 2013 due to poor profit margins, a spokesman said Tuesday.

“We are going to be down (for the) first quarter for certain. We are going to keep an eye on margins,” said Ron Dunbar, vice president of ethanol operations for privately held White Energy.

“It’s probably not going to come back up until the third or fourth quarter,” Dunbar said.

The Plainview ethanol plant, which has a capacity of 120 million gallons a year, stopped accepting corn in mid- to late December, Dunbar said.

U.S. ethanol producers have struggled with poor margins amid rising stockpiles and high corn prices. Earlier on Tuesday, independent oil refiner Valero Energy Corp said it idled three of its 10 ethanol production facilities during the final three months of 2012.

POET, another U.S. ethanol producer, last week said it would temporarily suspend operations at its Macon, Missouri, plant , and Abengoa Bioenergy said this month it would temporarily halt ethanol production at two plants in Nebraska.

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