Enviva assures stakeholders COVID-19 is not impacting operations

By Erin Voegele | March 30, 2020

Enviva Chairman and CEO John Keppler sent a letter to stakeholders on March 30 announcing the company’s operations have not been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak and reaffirming the company’s financial guidance for 2020.

“Like many of you, we have spent a great deal of time over the last few weeks adapting to a new way of working and living,” he wrote. “Our number one priority in these times is to ensure the health and well-being of our employees, their families, and the communities that surround them.”

Keppler said Enviva is taking steps to make its work environment as safe as possible. “For some locations that means staggered work schedules and teleworking to the greatest degree feasible, while for others it means restricted access and limiting personnel in certain places,” Keppler wrote. “At every site we are undertaking the cleaning and social distancing protocols the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates will mitigate the spread of the disease. We are also exercising extra caution by working to identify and help care for people who demonstrate symptoms of any sort to ensure they are healthy and safe before coming into our workplaces.”

“We need to keep working because our business supplies essential fuel for heat and power across the globe,” Keppler continued. “It makes me immensely grateful and proud to see the efforts our employees are putting into this mission, and I continue to believe we are well-positioned to succeed because of the way we have built our business.”

Kepper explained that Enviva’s operations and logistics systems have been specifically designed with flexibility and redundancies. As a result, they are capable of effectively responding to unforeseen events. “Together with our sponsor, we operate a portfolio of eight wood pellet production plants geographically dispersed in areas with low population density across the Southeast U.S,” Keppler wrote. “We export our product from a portfolio of four bulk terminals and transport it to our customers under long-term, fixed-price shipping contracts with multiple shipping partners. These operations currently are unaffected by COVID-19.”

The letter notes that the U.S. government identifies biomass energy, forestry and wood products as industries essential to continued critical infrastructure viability. That guidance has generally been followed within the states Enviva operates. “If needed, we have contingency and business continuity plans in place we believe would mitigate the impact of potential business disruptions,” Keppler wrote. “We have made additional plans to reduce shifts, share workforces, and reassign corporate and regional support personnel to ensure we can continue to be in the plants, terminals, and woods to safely, stably, and reliably perform essential responsibilities that cannot be undertaken from home.”

The letter also states that Enviva’s pellet operations are not being impacted by volatility in the fossil fuel and commodity markets. “Many industrial and energy companies have been negatively affected by current volatility in fossil fuel and other energy commodity prices,” Keppler wrote. “We are different. Our wood pellet production capacity is committed under long-term, take-or-pay off-take contracts with fixed pricing and fixed volumes that are not impacted by the market prices of crude oil, natural gas, power, or heat.”

Kepper also stressed that Enviva’s financial condition is strong. “Some companies have been required to cut their distributions or capital investments as a result of global instability, recessionary expectations, low and volatile commodity prices, and anticipated reductions in customer volume,” he wrote. “We do not believe we will have to take such measures given the fully contracted nature of our business. We do, however, remain vigilant about the unfolding global crisis and continue to monitor and manage the impact on our business of potential health, safety, and other risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The company’s development of new assets and construction projects is continuing, according to Keppler. “Although government-imposed travel restrictions and lock-downs could impact deliveries of equipment or workforce availability as the COVID-19 response continues to evolve, our expansions at the Northampton and Southampton plants, as well as the construction of our sponsor’s newest plant in Lucedale, Mississippi and the associated marine terminal at the Port of Pascagoula, have not been impacted to date,” Keppler wrote. “Our sponsor’s development pipeline remains robust and current events have not significantly interfered with its assessment and development of new plants and terminals. Our sponsor remains committed to the growth profile of the business, including its highly visible drop-down pipeline of fully contracted plants and terminals.”

A full copy of the letter is available on Enviva’s website