Wood pellet exports continue to grow

Wood pellet exports from North America exceeded $650 million (€466 million) last year, according to information from the North American Wood Fiber Review.

Shipments from North America to Europe have more than doubled in two years and reached 4.7 million tonnes in 2013. Of this volume, around 63% came from the US South.

Much of this growth can be attributed to those wood pellet exporting companies who continue to build new pellet manufacturing facilities, with their products destined for European markets. The review reports that export volumes hit a record high in the fourth quarter of 2013 and the total shipments for 2013 were up almost 50% from the previous year and more than double that in 2011.

'The expansion, which is entirely driven by demand for biomass in Europe, has increased pellet exports from 800,000 tonnes on 2011 to 2.9 million tonnes in 2013,' the report said. 'Many of the recent investments in pellet capacity in the US South have occurred along the Atlantic coast, with Enviva and Fram Renewables expanding production in the states of Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.'

Exports are also growing in Canada, although not as aggressively as in the US. Volumes in 2013 were over 50% higher than in 2011, with British Columbia shipping a majority of the pellets. The review points to two recent developments that are of interest. The first is regular shipments of pellets to South Korea, a trend which began in the second quarter of last year. Secondly, exports from the east of the region, such as Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick also rose during this time.

'Eastern Canada will see additional pellet export volumes later in 2014 when Rentech begins operation at its two pellet facilities now underway in Ontario. A Quebec pellet export facility under construction at the Port of Quebec is the first dedicated infrastructure for pellet exports along the St Lawrence Seaway,' the review reported.

At the end of last year these eastern Canadian provinces exported around 25% of Canada's total pellet exports. This volume is expected to increase this year and next.

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