Enviva to acquire Green Circle, Miss. project expected to proceed

By Erin Voegele | October 20, 2014

Enviva Development Holdings LLC, an affiliate of Enviva LP, recently announced an agreement to acquire Green Circle Energy Inc. On Sept. 30, Enviva announced it has signed a contract with JCE Group Aktiebolag, the sole owner of Green Circle. Under that contract, Enviva is expected to acquire all issued and outstanding shares of Green Circle. The transaction is expected to close by the first quarter of 2015 and is subject to customary closing conditions.

Green Circle owns and operates a 650,000-ton-per-year wood pellet plant in Cottondale, Florida. The facility exports product from the Port of Panama City, Florida. The facility began operations in 2008.

Like Enviva, Green Circle supplies wood pellets under long-term contracts to major European power generators that replace coal with biomass. Green Circle also supplies pellets to the European market for use in home heating and thermal applications in commercial buildings and industrial sites.

In July 2013, officials from Green Circle issued an announcement through the Mississippi Development Authority indicating the company was planning to build a 500,000-ton-per-year wood pellet facility in Georgia County, Mississippi. At that time, Green Circle said the facility was expected to be operational by spring 2015. In December of last year, the Port of Pascagoula in Jackson County, Mississippi, announced county supervisors authorized a bond issue for up to $24 million to support the construction of an export facility that would serve the proposed plant.

An Enviva spokesman said the company is unable to comment on what the pending acquisition means for the proposed pellet project. However, Morton Neraas, president and CEO of Green Circle, told Biomass Magazine that at the present time it is not anticipated any changes will be made to the project due to the change in ownership. Other issues related to U.K. and European Union regulations are more important to the successful development of this project at the present time, he added. 

Documents published by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality also seem to indicate development of the pellet plant is moving forward.  A construction permit was issued to the project in May.

The Green Circle acquisition is not the expansion project announced by Enviva in recent months. In September, the company announced it is pursuing the development of three new wood pellet plants, including two in North Carolina, which were announced by state officials. In early September, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory and N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker announced Enviva is planning new pellet projects in Richmond and Sampson counties. A location for the third project has not been announced, but documents published by the North Carolina State Ports Authority earlier this year indicate it could be located in South Carolina. 

Enviva currently has pellet operations in Wiggins, Mississippi; Amory, Mississippi; Ahoskie, North Carolina; Northampton, North Carolina; and Southampton, Virginia; along with port operations at the Port of Chesapeake in Virginia and the Port of Mobile in Alabama.