Reporting on the Ports

By Anna Simet | August 22, 2013

U.S. ports are responding to the massive build out of the industrial wood pellet industry in the Southeast U.S., investing in the infrastructure necessary for manufacturers to use their facilities for export operations.

I’ve past blogged several times about all of the port activity, and am finally going to write a more in-depth piece on what’s going on. For the Q3 issue of Pellet Mill Magazine, I’m working on an article providing updates on some of the many port projects going on in the Southeast, what these ports already and will have to offer exporters, plans for new plants and associated infrastructure, and how ports and producers teaming up—even getting state and local government on board—to get everything in order. These ports include the Port of Pascagoula, the Port of Port St. Joe, the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, the Port Marine Terminal and the Port of Brunswick.

What’s refreshing to see here is that there doesn’t seem to be a chicken-or-egg scenario, which is very common in all bioenergy sectors (growing feedstock vs. building the cellulosic ethanol plant). Obviously, an assured and massive European demand for U.S. pellets is the driving force behind all of this, a certainty that producers and ports can bank on.

Several years ago, when we first started doing an annual pellet map, we asked producers if they were exporting (or if proposed plants would). Very few said yes. Many said “we want to,” or “we’re looking into it.” Every year, we asked that same question, and we’ve seen that number go up each year.

I’m very curious to see what our results will say this spring, compared four or so years ago. You can be sure we’ll share that information with you. Stay tuned, and check out the pellet/port article in the Q3 issue of Pellet Mill Magazine to bring yourself up to speed on what’s going on in the export industry.