Officials optimistic about Nettleton biofuels plans

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

An official with Universal Bioenergy expects a controversial biofuels company to keep its agreement to re-open a dormant facility in Nettleton.
Mississippi Investment Petroleum Co., also known as MIPCO, signed a lease with Universal several months ago to make biodiesel at the facility, which was built in 2004 for Biodiesel of Mississippi Inc. But Biodiesel went under in 2006.
“Everything is pretty much good to go there,” Solomon Ali, Universal’s senior vice president for investor relations, said Monday from a cell phone with a Charlotte, N.C., area code.
Universal Bioenergy is a Nevada corporation with offices in Florida. Charlotte, N.C., investor Process Technologies amp& Services recently sued MIPCO for return of a $635,000 investment, saying it was deceived into believing MIPCO’s leaders knew how to succeed in the biofuels venture.
Ali hedged on whether MIPCO is paying the agreed $250,000-per-month lease, but he said the Mississippi company continues to abide by its terms, which have some monetary wiggle room based on production.
Robbie Wilbur, spokesman at Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, said recently the agency has issued no permits that would allow the Nettleton facility to operate.
Last week, MIPCO President Mike Cook of Madison said his company continues to put hopes into the Nettleton plant, but he doesn’t expect any headway there for several months. The entire facility is outside, unlike its Houston refinery.
“Until the weather warms up, we can’t do much over there,” Cook speculated.
Meanwhile in Houston, an eviction hearing for MIPCO is still set for Thursday, said Justice Court Clerk Lynne Taylor.
The facility, where MIPCO moved after difficulties with a start-up in Aberdeen, is owned by state Sen. Jack Gordon of Okolona. MIPCO’s lease is for $10,000 per month.
When MIPCO missed its December rent, Gordon filed the eviction notice.
However, it’s believed Gordon recently got his money for December, but he didn’t return a call about how or if that payment affects his plans.
Ali said his company’s concerns were raised when MIPCO was threatened with eviction.
“It was an alarming situation in Houston,” he said.
Last week, Cook said he expected refinery staff to be back at work Jan. 4 after a New Year’s break. Tuesday, no one answered a Daily Journal call to the Houston facility.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.