North America exported wood pellets valued at over US$650 million in 2013, a dramatic increase of more than 250% in just two years, according to data compiled by the North American Wood Fiber Review. The U.S. South shipped almost three million tons last year, which was almost two-thirds of total export volume from North America.
The expansion in Canadian pellet export has been less dramatic than that of the U.S., but 2013 volumes were still more than 50% higher than in 2011, with British Columbia shipping a majority of the volume.
In Canada, there have been two recent developments of interest, reports WRI, the publisher of the North American Wood Fiber Review. One, the first regular shipments of pellets to South Korea started in the second half of 2013 and, two, exports from Eastern Canada (that is Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) increased during this same time period.
Eastern Canada will see additional pellet export volumes later in 2014 when Rentech begins operation at its two pellet facilities in Ontario. As reported in the NAWFR (www.woodprices.com), a Quebec pellet export facility under construction at the Port of Quebec is the first dedicated infrastructure for pellet exports along the St. Lawrence Seaway. Its presence, when completed, reduces the heretofore substantial entry barrier for a number of smaller pellet companies which are interested in the international market.
In the 4Q/13, export volumes from the Eastern provinces accounted for 25% of Canada’s total pellet exports, a share that is likely to increase in 2014 and 2015.
A rapid expansion of pellet production capacity in the U.S. South during 2012 and 2013 has resulted in a tripling of pellet production in the region in just two years. The expansion, which is entirely driven by demand for biomass in Europe, has increased pellet exports from 800,000 tons in 2011 to 2.9 million tons in 2013, according to data compiled by WRI and reported in the North American Wood Fiber Review.