Drilling Down

Ashtabula Energy’s Parent Company Suspends CEO

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Roy Lipski, the CEO of Velocys plc, the British company planning to build a $200 million gas-to-liquids plant in Ashtabula, has been suspended by the company “pending an investigation into allegations of serious misconduct.”

Velocys announced Lipski’s suspension Monday.

“The allegations do not involve any element of fraud or financial impropriety,” the company said. “Mr. Lipski’s suspension does not constitute disciplinary action and does not imply any assumption whatsoever that he is guilty of any misconduct.”

While Velocys conducts its internal investigation of Lipski, Susan Robertson, chief financial officer, will act as CEO, the company said.

Velocys announced in June 2014 that it was taking over the project planned for the site of the former Union Carbide complex south of Lake Road, and would proceed with permitting under the corporate entity Ashtabula Energy LLC. Terms of the all-stock transaction were not disclosed.

The Ashtabula fuel plant was first proposed in September 2013 by Pinto Energy, whose CEO was John Baardson, the executive behind the failed Baard Energy coal-to-liquid project proposed for Wellsville nearly 10 years ago.

This winter the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft permit for Ashtabula Energy to discharge 1.6 million gallons of wastewater per day into Lake Erie. A public hearing followed.

In response to an inquiry from The Business Journal, Allison Cycyk of the OEPA’s Division of Surface Water, said the final permit “has gone through sign offs at our central office and we are “in the final steps before sending the documents out to the public and entity. The final permit and response to comments from the last public meeting should be available online shortly.”

Meanwhile, on May 15 Velocys and its joint-venture partner, Waste Management Inc., broke ground to build a small scale gas-to-liquids plant in Oklahoma City, adjacent to a landfill operated by Waste Management. The joint venture, known as ENVIA Energy, is expected to begin operation in about 12 months, officials said.

Site preparation has not begun for the Ashtabula plant and in its announcement of Lipski’s suspension, Velocys did not provide any information regarding the project’s status.

Pictured: Depiction of a gas-to-liquids energy plant elsewhere.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.