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Stora Enso reiterates commitment to bioenergy

Finnish pulp and paper manufacture Stora Enso said it will invest €16m to start wood pellet production at its Ala sawmill in Sweden and €10m to revamp its biomass-fired boiler in Finland, as it attempts to transform into a renewable materials company.

In its 2015 fourth-quarter statement published today (4 February, 2015), the firm said sales decreased by 2.5% to €2.49bn for the quarter 2015 compared to €2.55bn the same period a year earlier.

Stora Enso's CEO, Karl-Henrik Sundström, said: "Stora Enso has shown its ability to transform into a renewable materials growth company. In the fourth quarter, sales excluding the structurally declining paper business and divestments increased 5.4%.

"This was mainly driven by the Montes del Plata pulp mill and kraftliner from Varkaus Mill. We also continued to generate strong cash flow during the quarter.

"Operational earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) in the fourth quarter increased 15.8% to €242m year-on-year, mainly due to strong performance in the Biomaterials division, lower variable costs and favourable foreign exchange. Division Wood Products delivered its highest fourth-quarter operational EBIT ever, mainly due to lower wood costs and positive foreign exchange impact."

The group's wood products division will invest €16m to start pellet production and to build a new boiler at Ala Sawmill in Sweden, and €10m to renew the boiler at its Honkalahti sawmill in Finland.

'Opportunities ahead'
He added that a "lot of work" still needed to be done to help Stora Enso's transformation from a packaging company to a renewable materials firm. However, he explained: "The transformation is visible in the value we bring to our customers, and it has started to be reflected in our improved operational EBIT and return on capital employed (ROCE). We have exciting opportunities ahead."

The news comes as the firm recently announced that it signed a contract with Finnish biomass boiler provider KPA Unicon to take delivery of a boiler plant for its sawmill facility in Sweden.

The new Unicon Biograte 15MWth boiler plant will utilise bark and wood residues from the Ala sawmill as fuel, and it will produce hot water to the sawmill´s drying kilns.

This article was written by Liz Gyekye, editor at Bioenergy Insight.