A Chance of Flurries

Does the flurry of news in the pellet sector in the last two weeks foretell a particularly snowy winter?
By Tim Portz | August 19, 2014

We are squarely in the dog days of summer and yet I’m opening my Pellet Press blog with an allusion to flurries. While winter will be here soon enough, I’m not talking about snow flurries. Instead, I’m struck by the flurry of activity we’ve reported on in the pellet sector in the last two weeks. To be fair, we’re right in the middle of quarterly earnings calls so an uptick in industry news is to be expected.  As a staff we’ve committed to covering as many of those earnings calls as possible with firsthand reporting. What we’ve heard is that industry continues to generate robust business and business opportunities in the space.

While listening to the Rentech earnings call for the web story I posted on August 8th, Rentech CEO Hunt Ramsbottom was clear that Rentech’s investment in the sector will not end with their acquisition of New England Wood Pellet. “We are pursuing a number of new projects and acquisition opportunities in the pellet and chipping businesses to complement our existing assets,” he said. The web story Erin Voegele posted on OEM giant Andritz’s Q2 earnings indicate that the sector is busy worldwide as Andritz has delivered pelleting equipment to Latin America, North America, Europe and Southeast Asia.

Speaking of Southeast Asia, we reported on two proposed production facilities to serve he region within four days of one another. On August 1st we reported on a joint venture between PHI Group Inc. and two wood processing facilities in Vietnam to bring 400,000 tons of production online. Four days later, we covered a project in British Columbia that looks to bring 160,000 tons of capacity online to serve a Korean market that continues to generate enough real activity to attract existing producers as well as developers of new capacity.

As industry momentum continues the news, information and market intelligence that surrounds the industry works hurriedly to keep up, our team included. Erin Voegele’s August 15th story reported that Platts will now offer a weekly spot price for industrial wood pellets delivered to Europe. A story we haven’t yet published but have been made aware of is the Energy Information Administration’s interest in the pellet production segment.  The agency is hosting two meetings this month to gain industry input. That said, I’d welcome you to have a look at the pellet production data we currently host on We feel strongly that the best and freshest data available on installed capacities, export activities, feedstock and plant status can be found there.

 I invite you to work your way through this edition of Pellet Press. The momentum in the sector is palpable right now as this latest two week flurry clearly indicates.