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Maxing Out A Panamax

This just in: Canada’s Pinnacle Pellet shared that it had successfully fully loaded a Panamax-class vessel with wood pellets.
By Anna Simet | June 05, 2015

This just in: Canada’s Pinnacle Pellet shared that it had successfully fully loaded a Panamax-class vessel with wood pellets.

It took place in June 2, at the company’s Westview Terminal in Prince Rupert, B.C. Pinnacle says it will be the largest load of wood pellets every shipped anywhere—in the history of the industry.

Pretty exciting—here’s a picture I was able to get:

As noted by Pinnacle, Panamax vessels are purpose-built to utilize the maximum capacity of the Panama Canal. The vessel Pinnacle loaded will carry nearly 60,000 tons of wood pellets to Drax Power in the U.K.

Typically smaller vessels such as handysize/handimax or supramax vessels are commonly used to ship wood pellets, or, more recently and mainly from Canadian ports, partially-loaded Panamax.

Here’s a quick size comparison compliments of stevesmaritime.com:

Says Pinnacle, the larger load will allow receivers to improve discharge efficiency on arrival.  Vaughan Bassett, Pinnacle’s senior vice-president of sales and logistics adds that Panamax vessels are an underutilized class of vessel, “so this additional cargo option will suit ship owners, shippers and receivers alike."

The M/V Popi S was chartered by Grieg Star Shipping in Norway and will take 34 days to sail between Prince Rupert and Immingham, U.K., arriving in early July.

Today, Pinnacle manufactures 56 percent of Canada’s total pellet production, and, as I discussed with CEO Rob McCurdy late last year, a seventh plant is in the works—construction began in late January.

A little more on Pinnacle’s terminal, the $42 million Westview terminal was built on the site of an abandoned grain terminal, and it’s designed specifically to receive wood pellets transported by rail from Pinnacle’s facilities for loading into bulk cargo vessels. It includes private rail storage tracks, a wood pellet receiving and unloading building, a conveyor and ship loader system, and four silos with an expandable storage capacity of 50,000 metric tons. The terminal can unload rail cars at 1,000 metric tons per hour and has a vessel loading rate of 2,000 metric tons per hour.

I’ll be interested in hearing more when the Popi S is unloaded—if you are too, stay tuned.