April 23 (Reuters) - Leading ethanol maker POET Biorefining restarted its ethanol plant in Macon, Missouri, last week after upgrading the plant to extract corn oil and as margins improved, a company spokesman said on Tuesday.
The privately held POET shut down the plant on Feb. 1 as supplies of corn, the main feedstock used in the production of the grain-based fuel additive, dwindled to the lowest levels in nine years, squeezing profits.
The northern Missouri plant with an annual capacity of 45 million gallons was upgraded with $14 million in new technology, including corn oil extractors, spokesman Matt Merritt said.
“It’s a combination of things,” Merritt said of restarting the plant. “Certainly margins improved, with corn oil adding a new revenue stream.”
Margins at U.S. ethanol plants climbed to the highest levels since December 2011 last month, Reuters data showed, after corn prices posted their largest two-day decline in history following a U.S. Agriculture Department report showing a larger-than-expected stockpile of the grain.
POET is the second largest producer of ethanol behind Archer Daniels Midland Co.