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US pellet exports on the rise

Pellet exports from North America into Europe hit a new record in the fourth quarter of last year.

Shipments rose to 600,000 tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2011, which is a sharp increase from the 130,000 tonnes shipped in the first quarter of 2008. Shipments have been on the rise steadily every quarter since then.

Over all of last year, wood pellet shipments reach just over 2 million tonnes, an almost 300% rise since 2008.

British Columbian pellet producers were the main exporters since the shipments began 12 years ago, although this has since changed because of more investments and an increased capacity in the south of the US which meant the same amount of exports were coming from this region.

There are now six pellet exporting plants in the US south and further growth is expected with four other companies trialling shipments over the past six months.

Because the Enligna pellet plant in Nova Scotia, eastern Canada, closed recently, the pellet exports in this region remained unchanged although it is expected to reopen later this year by a new owner and this should see a rise in exports.

The North American Wood Fiber Review says that it expects small increases in volumes from both the US and Canada will happen in 2012 with a sharp rise in exports due in 2013. This is because this is when new pellet plants, which are currently being built, are expected to open.

In terms of European imports, companies in the Netherlands, the UK and Belgium are the biggest consumers with the UK leading the way in regards to the biggest growth in imports.