Ambre Energy Limited is an Australia-headquartered coal and oil shale company. The company has ceased all ongoing projects and no longer owns any businesses. The company's only remaining asset is a minority carried interest in Utah-based Lighthouse Resources, which consists of Ambre's former North American coal mining and export business, which was ceded to creditors in 2014.
Ambre Energy was founded in June 2005 by Edek Choros, a geologist and mining engineer. In September 2005, Ambre Energy filed a patent for the Hybrid Energy System, a method for processing low-value coal and other carbonaceous materials.
In April 2006, Ambre Energy started negotiations with American oil shale technology company Oil-Tech, Inc., incorporated in February 2000 in Utah. Oil-Tech, Inc. was a developer of the Oil-Tech staged electrically heated retort process for the oil shale pyrolysis. In October 2006, Ambre Energy and Oil-Tech established Millennium Synfuels, LLC, which took over property rights of the retorting technology. By June 30, 2007 Ambre Energy acquired 6% of Oil Tech and October 17, 2007 it acquired 35%. Further Oil Tech become a wholly owned subsidiary of Ambre Energy and as of July 21, 2008 was merged into Ambre Energy.
In December 2014 Ambre Energy sold its U.S. coal assets to Resource Capital Funds for US$18 million: the Decker coal mine in Montana, the Black Butte coal mine in southwestern Wyoming, and Ambre's stake in the Morrow Port project in Oregon and Millennium Bulk Terminals in Washington. Filings with Australian regulators show that Ambre accumulated US$32 million in debt since December 2013, with all the financing provided by Resource Capital Funds.
Felton Clean Coal Project
Ambre Energy planned to build and operate a "clean coal" gasification plant at Felton Valley, 30 kilometers (19 miles) south west of Toowoomba, Queensland. The plan includef construction of an open-pit coal mine and carbon capture facility.
At the final stage, the company claimed the plant would produce enough gas for production of 2.8 million tonnes per year of dimethyl ether and generate 650 megawatts of electricity. It is also stated thgat it would produce by-products for fertilizer production, and olefins and plastics manufacturing.
Following an article in The Australian stating that Ambre was "at risk of financial collapse" after the new Queensland Premier Campbell Newman rejected the CTL project. In response the company stated that the project "remains in the early investigation stage" and that while it represented an important opportunity for Queensland it "is a relatively immaterial contributor to the Ambre Group’s current overall value proposition as it approaches an ASX listing."
Ambre Energy operates a small Oil-Tech oil shale extraction pilot plant and 34,000 acres (140 km²) of oil shale leases, approximately 40 mi (64 km) southeast of Vernal, Utah. In the Oil-Tech process, crushed oil shale is lifted by a conveyor system to the vertical retort, and is loaded into the retort from the top. The retort consists of a series of connected individual heating chambers, stacked atop each other. Heating rods extend into the centers of each of these chambers. The feed oil shale is heated to increasingly-higher temperatures as it moves down the retort, attaining a temperature of 1,000 °F (540 °C) in the lowest chamber. The gases and vapors are vacuumed into a condensing unit. The spent shale is used for pre-heating feed oil shale. The advantages of this technology are its modular design, which enhances its portability and adaptability, its low water requirements, its heating efficiency, and the relatively high quality of the resulting product.
March 2011: Protesters rally in Salt Lake against coal export plan
Rainforest Action Network along with Peaceful Uprising, Utah Moms for Clean Air and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers organized a 60 person rally in from of the office of coal exporter Ambre Energy asking them to stop their development of coal export facilities in Longview, Washington.
Jim Cooksey, a representative of the union, stated of the export plan:
“We are concerned about the exporting of coal to overseas markets in that there are no environmental standards once the coal leaves our borders. The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers understands the issue of climate change and is looking to secure alliances with other labor and environmental organizations to find solutions that protect workers and the environment.“
May 2012: Activists rally in Portland against exporting coal from Northwest ports
On May 7, 2012 several hundred activists gathered in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square to oppose the export of Montana and Wyoming coal from Northwest ports. Activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chief prosecuting attorney for Hudson Riverkeeper and president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, spoke to the crowd. Kennedy said that coal would corrupt politicians, damage health and the environment and "turn government agencies into the sock puppets of the industries they're supposed to regulate."
Ambre Energy plant in Montana
Ambre Energy has proposed a $375 million coal plant in southeastern Montana. The plant would produce an estimated 4.4 million tons of high-efficiency coal per year, eventually increasing to as much as 17 million tons per year, by stripping the coal of moisture in 1,000 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. Developers say the process would make it competitive in terms of heat value with more expensive Appalachian coal. The proposed plant would also produce 1.6 million barrels of synthetic crude oil each year. Construction on the project would begin in 2010, with completion scheduled for the second quarter of 2011. To move forward, the project will need a federal loan guarantee from the Department of Energy to back 80 percent of the projected costs with taxpayer money.
Cloud Peak sues Ambre Energy
Ambre Energy was sued by Cloud Peak Energy in July 2012. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Montana, the company alleged that Ambre's export plans to ship coal to Asian markets from the company's Decker Mine were developed without Cloud Peak's approval. The company is asking the court to remove Ambre as the mine's manager.
Northwest ports to be used to export Powder River Basin coal to Asian markets
For more information on the proposed port developments in the western United States please visit the Coal exports from northwest United States ports article.
In November 2014, Ambre Energy sold its US subsidiary to the US private equity firm, Resource Capital Funds (RCF).
Proposed Millennium Bulk Logistics Longview Terminal
In September 2010 Peabody Energy announced that "Coal's best days are ahead." Peabody stated that exports of coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming will be central to its expansion goals. The Oregonian in September 2010 reported that Northwest ports, and in particular ports in Portland, Oregon, may be used in the future to export coal to Asia. The Port of Portland said it doesn't have the space for coal exports in the short-term, but its consultants cited coal as a potential long-term market if it adds terminals on West Hayden Island.
In early November 2010 Australia-based Ambre Energy asked Cowlitz County officials in southern Washington State, which borders Oregon, to approve a port redevelopment that would allow for the export of 5 million tons of coal annually. On November 23 Cowlitz County officials approved the permit for the port redevelopment, which is to be located at the private Chinook Ventures port in Longview, Washington. Coal terminals also are proposed at two other sites along the Columbia River.
Environmentalists stated that they would oppose any such actions, arguing that coal contributes to pollution and global warming. Early discussion of how many jobs the port would produce was roughly twenty total.
In November 2010 Powder River Basin coal producer Cloud Peak Energy CEO Colin Marshall stated that a coal port on the West Coast was "absolutely more than a pipedream."
Other Powder River Basin producers, including top US coal miner Peabody Energy, have talked about the potential for a new export facility on the West Coast, with Oregon and Washington being mentioned as the top locations of choice.
Proposed Terminal: Gateway Pacific Terminal
The Gateway Pacific Terminal is a proposed terminal at Cherry Point near Ferndale, Washington, and would have a maximum capacity of about 54 million tons. On February 28, 2011, SSA Marine applied for state and federal permits for the $500 million terminal, triggering formal environmental review. If approved, the terminal would begin construction in early 2013 and operations in 2015.
On March 1, 2011, Seattle-based SSA Marine announced it had entered into an agreement with St. Louis-based Peabody Energy to export up to 24 million metric tons of coal per year through the Gateway Pacific Terminal. Goldman Sachs owns a portion of SSA Marine's parent company. According to Peabody, the terminal in Whatcom County would serve as the West Coast hub for exporting Peabody's coal from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana to Asian markets. The project would ramp up potential U.S. coal exports to Asia from Washington state. Another coal export terminal proposed in Longview, the Millennium Bulk Logistics Longview Terminal in southwest Washington, has drawn environmental opposition. That Millennium Bulk Logistics terminal would be a joint venture between Australia-based Ambre Energy and Arch Coal.
Environmental groups have appealed to Washington's Shoreline Hearings Board over a permit awarded for the port by Cowlitz County commissioners.
According to Gateway Pacific Terminal's website the company plans on providing a "highly efficient portal for American producers to export dry bulk commodities such as grain, potash and coal to Asian markets." Additionally, the site contends that the "Gateway project will generate about 4,000 jobs and about $54 million a year in tax revenue for state and local services. Once in full operation, it's estimated that Gateway will provide almost $10 million a year in tax revenue, create about 280 permanent family-wage jobs directly, and nearly 1,400 additional jobs through terminal purchases and employee spending."
Proposed coal terminal: Port of Morrow
On May 11, 2011, the Port of Morrow Commission approved a one-year lease option with Coyote Island Terminal LLC of Salt Lake City, Utah, to build a rail off-loading coal terminal on up to 24.26 acres to transfer the coal onto barges for shipment to the Millennium Bulk Logistics Longview Terminal in Washington, and on to customers in Asia.
Millennium is a unit of Ambre Energy, a closely held mining company based in Brisbane, Australia. The properties are adjacent to the land occupied by Pacific Ethanol and ZeaChem, which is building a cellulosic ethanol test plant.
Michael Klein and Everett King of Ambre Energy North America Inc. met with commissioners in a closed session right before the board unanimously approved the lease option. It calls for Coyote Island Terminal, a subsidiary of Ambre Energy, to pay the port $60,745 during the next year to secure the option. Klein said his company will use the next year to investigate what it can do with the site, saying the project is in a very early stage, so how much coal the company might ship and to what destinations are still to be determined. Ambre Energy’s website states: “It is Ambre Energy’s intention to establish one of the few coal export facilities on the west coast of North America to provide access to growing Asia-Pacific markets for U.S. thermal coal.”
Klein said his company hopes to ship unit trains of coal to the port from the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming. The typical coal train is 100 to 120 cars long — a mile of coal. Each hopper car holds 100 to 115 tons of coal, which lasts just 20 minutes fueling a power plant.
It was announced in July 2012 that Ambre Energy was required to obtain an Oregon DEQ air permit for its proposed coal storage facility at the Port of Morrow.
Port of St. Helens potential candidate for coal export to Asia
In January 2012 The Oregonian reported two companies proposed to export Montana and Wyoming coal from the Powder River Basin through the Port of St. Helens: Kinder Morgan Energy Partners and Pacific Transloading, a subsidiary of Ambre Energy. Ambre Energy proposed that their subsidiary Pacific Transloading ship 3.5 million metric tons of coal a year with potential to ship as much as 8 million metric tons with port approval. Coal would be shipped on covered barges, received at Port Westward and directly loaded onto about 50 ocean-going ships a year.
The project is part of Ambre Energy plans for Coyote Island Terminal, which it plans to construct at the Port of Morrow for coal storage and barge loading. The coal will then be barged to Port Westward's Industrial Park for transloading.
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Resources and Articles
Related SourceWatch articles
- Australia and coal
- Carbon Capture and Storage
- Oregon and coal
- Washington (state) and coal
- Coal exports from northwest United States ports
- Coal terminals
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- "Protesters rally in SLC against coal-export plan" Brandon Loomis, Salt Lake Tribune, March 22, 2011.
- "Kennedy, activists rally in Portland against exporting coal from Northwest ports" Scott Learn, Oregonian, May 7, 2012.
- "$375 million coal plant proposed for SE Montana," Associated Press, February 4, 2009.
- "Lawsuit clouds Ambre Energy's plans to export coal from Columbia River ports" Scott Learn, The Oregonian, July 16, 2012.
- "Form 5057A," Australian Securities and Investments Commission, November 12, 2014
- "Cowlitz County approves permits to export coal to Asia from port in Longview, Wash." Scott Lean, The Oregonian, November 23, 2010.
- "Mining companies aim to export coal to China through Northwest ports" Scott Learn, Oregonian, September 8, 2010.
- "Strategic withdrawal for Longview coal exporter" Joel Connelly, Seattle Post Intelligencer, March 15, 2011.
- "'When rather than if' for new West Coast coal port" Liezal Hall, MiningWeekly.com, November 12, 2010.
- "Coal Industry Seeks to Export Through Wash. State" Matthew Brown & Phuonge Le, Associated Press, November 16, 2010.
- John Stark, "Gateway Pacific terminal at Cherry Point starts permit process" The Seattle Times, March 1, 2011.
- "Bulk cargo terminal planned in Washington state" Seattle Times, March 1, 2011.
- "Gateway Pacific Terminal Overview" Gateway Pacific Terminal website, accessed April 19, 2011.
- Dean Brickey, "Utah company sending coal shipments to Asia through Port of Morrow" East Oregonian, May 13, 2011.
- "Ambre Energy needs Oregon air permit to store coal at Port of Morrow" OregonLive.com, July 17, 2012.
- "Two coal companies want to export coal through the Port of St. Helens" Scott Learn, The Oregonian, January 17, 2012.
- "Morrow Pacific project," Ambre Energy, accessed July 2014.