SUGAR LAND, TEXAS — Imperial Sugar Co. said all its sugar packaging equipment is on site and the first packaging lines are undergoing commissioning and final acceptance testing at its Port Wentworth, Ga., refinery. The refinery was damaged extensively in an industrial accident in February 2008.
The refinery, which began shipping bulk sugar in late July, operated at about 25% of normal capacity in August as it ramped up production, the company said.
"The installation of packaging equipment is progressing very well and we expect to see the first commercial production later this month," said John Sheptor, president and chief executive officer. "In the mean time, bulk liquid and granulated shipments to our industrial customers have commenced, allowing Imperial to once again begin serving this key channel of distribution from our Georgia refinery. We look forward to the completion of our packaging facility this fall, allowing the return to normal operations in Port Wentworth."
Through Aug. 31, Imperial said it had spent approximately $149 million of the estimated $210 million to $225 million construction costs. The company received $75 million of advances under the property insurance policy in August and an additional $15 million in early September. Imperial said a significant increase in the domestic raw sugar futures market adversely affected cash balances during August, resulting in the company receiving in excess of $20 million of cash from daily settlement of raw sugar futures contracts held to hedge future raw sugar purchases.
As of Aug. 31, Imperial said it had cash balances of $108 million and available, undrawn revolving credit capacity of $32 million, after deducting $60 million of borrowings and $7 million of letters of credit outstanding under that facility.