North American wood pellet exports hit record high in 2015
North American wood pellet exports have reached record high in 2015 according to the North American Wood Fiber Review (NAWFR).
The exports increased for the third consecutive quarter in the 4Q/15, rising seven percent from the previous quarter to just over 1.7 million tons. The total for the year was 6.1 million tons, two percent higher than in 2014 and almost four times as much as in 2010.
US overseas pellet exports are all heading to European markets, principally to the UK, from the industrial pellet sector in the Southern States. The volume exported in the 4Q/15 climbed to a new record-high, with all of the increase coming from the export pellet plants in the US Gulf Coast region.
In particular German Pellets in Louisiana, Drax Biomass’s two new plants in Louisiana and Mississippi, and Zilkha Biomass Energy in Alabama all continued their ramp up of their operations. Primarily due to these new facilities, exports from the Gulf Ports rose by almost 70 percent from the 2Q/15 to the 4Q/15. Nonetheless, during the Q1/16, shipments to Europe from the US South have fallen (most likely a temporary pause) because of lower demand in Europe with the continent having an unusually warm winter.
Regarding Canadian pellet exports, the wares flow primarily to Japan with a much smaller volume finding its way to South Korea. China remains a tantalizing but unrealized market prospect. While South Korea is still concentrating on less expensive material from its neighbors to the south, principally Vietnam, Japan continues to show immediate and longer-term potential as a pellet and biomass consumer due to government policies that encourage growth of its renewable energy component of production.