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U.S. Wood Pellet Exports Weigh Anchor in 2016

This post includes an excerpt from the bioenergy research authored by Andrew Copley and Amanda Lang to be published in the Q2 2017 Forisk Research Quarterly (FRQ) Publication.

U.S. pellet exports were flat from 2015 to 2016: ports exported 4.7 million metric tons of wood pellets in 2016, less than a 1% year-over-year increase. In 2016, seven U.S. ports located in the South represented over 99% of all wood pellet export volumes. The top pellet exporting port is Norfolk-Newport News, VA (1.4 million metric tons), followed by Savannah, GA (0.8 million tons) and Panama City, FL (0.7 million tons). Of these seven ports, four increased export volumes year-over-year: Norfolk-Newport News, VA (8%); Savannah, GA (10%); Panama City, FL (4%); Baton Rouge, LA (125%). The other three— Mobile, AL; Port Arthur, TX; Brunswick, GA—decreased export volumes in 2016, declining 32%, 14%, and 40%, respectively.

Port Level Wood Pellet Exports_20170407

Since 2012 the majority of U.S. wood pellet exports originate from ports on the Atlantic. In 2016, Atlantic ports provided 55% of all wood pellet exports. The Chesapeake region, which includes Enviva’s Ahoskie, Northampton, and Southampton facilities, represented the largest volume of wood pellet exports from the U.S. in 2016 with 1.4 million metric tons. The port has seen a 348% increase in export volumes since 2012. With 30% of all U.S. wood pellet volumes, Virginia is the largest wood pellet exporting state. Georgia, with both the ports of Savannah and Brunswick, shipped 25% of U.S. wood pellet export volumes in 2016, making it the second largest exporting state. Savannah was 18%, 829 thousand metric tons, of total U.S. wood pellet exports in 2016, making it the second largest port by volume. Since 2012, Savannah has increased export volumes by 55%. Brunswick was 7%, 336 thousand metric tons, of total U.S. wood pellet exports in 2016.

Blog Figure_Pellet Exports_20170406

Other activity includes the Port of Wilmington, which began exporting wood pellets in 2017. Both Enviva Sampson in NC and Colombo Energy in SC exported their first volumes through this port in January. Enviva Sampson is expected to reach production volumes of 500 thousand metric tons in 2017 before increasing to a capacity of 600 metric tons in 2019. Colombo Energy has a stated capacity of 500 thousand metric tons. Additionally, Enviva’s 500 thousand metric ton Hamlet, NC, facility appears to be moving ahead and will export wood pellets from the Port of Wilmington as well. Highland Pellets, a 600 thousand metric ton facility in Pine Bluff, AR, began commissioning at the end of 2016. Volumes from the mill will be exported from Baton Rouge in 2017.

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