Enviva acquires Green Circle, orders equipment for N.C. plants

By Erin Voegele | February 06, 2015

Enviva is moving forward with its expansion plans. The company recently closed on its previously announced acquisition of Green Circle Energy Inc., and the Andritz Group has announced an order from Enviva to supply equipment and services for two proposed pellet plants in North Carolina.

Enviva Development Holdings LLC, an affiliate of Enviva LP, announced an agreement to acquire Green Circle Energy in late September. Morton Neraas, president and CEO of Green Circle, confirmed to Biomass Magazine that the transaction closed Jan. 5. 

Green Circle owns and operates a 650,000-ton-per-year wood pellet plant in Cottondale, Florida, that exports product from the Port of Panama City, Florida. The plant began operations in 2008. In addition to the Cottondale plant, Green Circle had proposed to build a 500,000-ton-per-year wood pellet plant in Georgia County, Mississippi. The proposed project was announced in July 2013. Morton previously indicated the proposed project was awaiting the outcome of further clarification of U.K. and European Union regulations. He said it was also on hold pending the conclusion of the Enviva acquisition and is dependent on Enviva’s development plants and timing. 

Meanwhile, on Jan. 22, Andrtiz announced an order from Enviva to supply woodyard equipment, engineering and field services for two 500,000-ton-per-year biomass pellet plants to be built in North Carolina. According to Andrtiz, it will supply several innovative products for manufacturing high-quality mini-chips from round timber at high production rates. At the heart of the wood processing line is the HHQ30 chipper with TurnkKnife system from Andritz Iggesund Tools. This combination of a chipper and knife system produces the highest percentage of accept chips and the thinnest chip on the market.

In December, Enviva Holdings LP announced a partnership with John Hancock Life Insurance Co. to develop wood pellet plants and marine export terminals in the southeastern U.S. At that time, the company said construction on a pellet plant and export terminal in North Carolina was expected to begin that month.

According to information released by Enviva, the companies, through their affiliates Enviva Development Holdings LLC and Hancock Natural Resources Group Inc., have committed to invest up to an aggregate of $320 million in equity capital in a joint venture called Enviva Wilmington Holdings LLC. The joint venture company plans to construct a pellet plant in Sampson County, North Carolina, and a marine export terminal at the Port of Wilmington, North Carolina. Construction on both facilities is expected to begin in December. A statement released by Enviva notes pellets produced at the Sampson County plant will be exported through the Wilmington terminal under long-term contracts with European power generators.

Information released by the companies also indicates the joint venture may construct other pellet plants and marine terminals in the southeastern U.S. in the future.

In September, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and North Carolina Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker announced that Enviva planned to develop two pellets plants, one located in Sampson County and one located in Richmond County. Biomass Magazine previously reported that Enviva is also pursuing the development of a third pellet plant, which  documents published by the North Carolina State Ports Authority earlier this year indicate could be located in Laurens County, South Carolina. Enviva also previously confirmed that all three proposed facilities would export pellets through a proposed terminal at the Port of Wilmington.

In October, Enviva Partners LP filed a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed $100 million initial public offering (IPO). In its S-1 form, Enviva Partners referenced the proposed Sampson County and Wilmington projects, noting that Enviva Holdings would give Enviva Partners right of first offer to acquire the facilities. In that document, Enviva also cited a 500,000 ton per year production capacity for the proposed pellet plant.