A potential new employer is coming to Converse County – and they couldn’t come at a better time – due to the current economic downturn we’re in between the coal and oil bust and the coronavirus pandemic.
Converse County commissioners are considering issuing $10 million in industrial revenue bonds to Slate Refining LLC of Midland, Texas for the purpose of bringing the old Antelope Refinery on WYO 59 up to date and up to speed.
Slate Refining LLC purchased the mothballed refinery last year from Genesis Energy with the intent of getting it up and running as quickly as possible. Company officials said they intend to provide a minimum of 21-23 permanent jobs at the refinery by Oct. 31, the date they expect the project to be producing, but they intend to review their needs and hire more people as it becomes necessary.
Commissioner and U.S. Senate candidate Robert Short said he’s working with Slate for the economic recovery of Converse County and the state.
“We are working on getting Slate Energy (and Refining) to invest in Wyoming so we can maximize the value of Wyoming’s natural resources and do a value-add before shipping out those resources in their raw form,” he said.
The Antelope refinery was moth-balled in early 2014, but maintenance and upkeep has continued while the plant sat idle until Slate purchased the plant for an undisclosed amount in 2019.
Slate Refinery LLC Director Bob Williams predicted the company will produce 5,000 to 6,500 barrels a day at peak. He said the firm can turn a profit at 2,500 barrels a day.
If issued, the $10 million in industrial revenue bonds will be used for repairs, upgrades, maintenance, etc. to get the refinery up and running as expediently as they can.
Short said Slate’s presence is positive on numerous levels.
“Slate will be able to take locally produced oil and convert it to diesel and gasoline right here in Converse County, which will generate new, high paying jobs – something we need right now,” he stated.
The company told commissioners they’ve done their homework on the project and know they stand on firm ground.
“The project viability is (sound),” Williams explained. “We’re looking at spending millions of dollars on this facility, and we want a 100 percent chance of success. We know what this facility can produce and everything it produces will be 100 percent absorbed by the market. We have great confidence we will get it up and running. We are not reinventing the wheel.
“Even under the circumstances of the (pandemic) of the last two months, we can still operate and make a profit. Our facility is a much lower cost and relatively simple refinery to operate.”
Slate representatives met with the commissioners in December to introduce them to the idea of operating the old Antelope refinery and explain what it will take to get the refinery “turned on,” as well as talk over the potential for the county to back $10 million in industrial revenue bonds. On Feb. 5, the county created the basis for issuing industrial revenue bonds for the refinery project, Williams said.