Pellet manufacturer buys Virginia port terminal

By Lisa Gibson | February 16, 2011

Pellet manufacturer Enviva LP will be able to expand its shipping capacity with the acquisition of a deep water port terminal in Chesapeake, Va. The investment will enable the company to receive, store and load in excess of 3 million tons of woody biomass for export annually.

The location is one of a few on the Eastern Seaboard suitable for the export of wood pellets and will serve as the shipment point for pellets manufactured at Enviva’s recently announced plant in nearby Ahoskie, N.C. The new plant will produce 330,000 tons of wood pellets annually from more than 600,000 tons of raw supplies, according to Enviva.

The Chesapeake port is Enviva’s second and the company will continue to ship pellets made at its Gulf region plants from its Mobile, Ala., port. The Virginia terminal was formerly owned by Giant Cement Co., which will continue to use a portion of it for cement sales. Expansion of the terminal will require 40 to 60 skilled workers and contractors during the initial phase of construction, and its permanent staff of 12 is expected to double by the third year of operation. Upgrades are expected to be complete in November, coinciding with pellet production at the new Ahoskie facility, according to Enviva.

“The Chesapeake region has for a long time been a key nexus of international trade in the United States,” said Enviva CEO John Keppler. “We are particularly excited to be one of the first green economy manufacturers to rebalance the flow of trade in favor of exports from this port in Virginia.” The company said the terminal purchase is a reflection of its commitment to ensuring the safety, reliability, sustainability and quality of its product. It also allows the company to better satisfy growing overseas demand for wood pellets.

The port terminal can accommodate a wide range of ships and loading options required for the export of more than 40,000 metric tons (44,000 tons) of Enviva’s pellets per vessel. The company is also looking into the development of at least two other manufacturing facilities in the Ahoskie area. Enviva’s customer base is mainly utility, industrial and retail customers throughout Europe, but increasingly in the U.S. With expansion plans on the horizon, Enviva’s pellet production capacity will exceed 1.3 million tons annually by the end of 2012.



4 Responses

  1. Anon



    Unfortunately, we don't use wood pellets on the same industrial scale that Europe does. They use them for renewable electricity. We instead have community protests whenever a new biomass (pellet) boiler is proposed to replace a coal boiler. Because Europe has stiffer penalties for non-renewable dirty power, and they pay 3x what we pay for power, it's cost effective for them to ship pellets overseas from the US. Yes, we export energy to Europe, in the form of wood pellets. And then we mine and burn coal to make our power.

  2. Steve Klaber



    How about pelletizing the Phragmites invasion and the Cattails in the sloughs? This is renewability at the felonious level. There are rivers and lakes worldwide with enormous infestations. Improved techniques for their harvest are being developed by a consortium in Manitoba.

  3. M. Lee Miller



    We may have interest in shipping our dRDF refuse derived fuel pellets from your port. A new MSW to dRDF plant is in the enginering phases here in N. Va. and we need info to ship 100 tons monthly to Europe for combustion in coal fired furnaces. Regards and please send info to: BioMASS Systems, Inc. Best Regards, M. Lee Miller President BioMASS Systems, inc. Offices in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, USA and Latin America.

  4. Neil G. Gow



    Glad to see the economic success, don't get me wrong, but we don't have enough of a domestic market for pellets?


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