Undisclosed buyer makes deal to purchase Western Canada’s largest ethanol plant

The largest ethanol plant in Western Canada is changing hands.


Just Energy Group Inc. has sold Terra Grain Fuels Inc., a 150 million litre ethanol plant in Belle Plaine, Sask., to an undisclosed buyer for an undisclosed amount.


“Difficult market conditions for ethanol production confirmed our initial view that this was a non-core asset to Just Energy,” chair Rebecca MacDonald said in a news release.


Just Energy ended up with Terra Grain as part of its 2009 acquisition of Universal Energy Group Ltd. 


Just Energy sells natural gas and electricity to two million customers in the U.S. and six Canadian provinces. It had bought Universal Energy as a way to expand its natural gas and electricity network, but the sale also included Terra Grain.


That plant, which employs 40 people, has now been sold to a group of Saskatchewan business people. 


“They have asked us not to reveal who they are,” said Al Shulman, vice-president of marketing for Just Energy. “They didn’t say why.”


All he would say is that the group has ethanol business experience.


“They’re experts in this business and we’re not. The future of the business is something that they are experts in.”


The original developers behind Terra Grain were Tim LaFrance, who founded Calgary oil and gas company Vertex Energy Ltd., and the Drummond Group, owned by Regina lawyer Gary Drummond. They were among the owners of Universal Energy that bought the plant before it opened.


Shulman said the plant will continue to produce ethanol and buy wheat from area farmers.

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