BP leases 300 acres of land from Texas-based Henderson Liberty Farms to plant energy cane as part of effort to produce cellulosic ethanol; first planting began Sept. 16, stalks will be transplanted to 3,400-acre plot next year

LOS ANGELES , September 28, 2011 () – BP PLC signed a lease with South Liberty County, Texas-based Henderson Liberty Farms to plant energy cane on 300 acres of land as part of its project to produce cellulosic ethanol, The Vindicator reported Sept. 21.

The energy grass will be hand planted and harvested for its fiber content, and BP will use the 300-acre lease as a seed plot before the stalks are transplanted to an expanded 3,400-acre tract next year. The renewable crop can repeat as much as eight years before it is necessary to replant.

The company is planning a 70 million-gallon cellulosic ethanol plant that could be constructed in southeast Texas. BP needs up to 50,000 acres of energy grass and is currently pursuing leases and working out agreements with farmers to custom farm the crop. Farmers would then have an option on the crop and could eventually own it, according to Tina Blake of Henderson Liberty Farms.

Environmental permitting will be the largest obstacle with the plant, and while its location has not been determined, it would need to be located within 25 miles of the farmland.

The first crop planting started Sept. 16, and BP hopes to have the plant in operation within three to five years.

BP’s crop expansion is a positive thing for Texas farmers, as it lets them diversity from rice and cattle, and it allows them to grow their business and potentially employ more people, according to Blake, The Vindicator reported.

The primary source of this article is The Vindicator, Liberty, Texas, on Sept. 21, 2011.

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