Maine Ports Gearing Up To Export Wood Chips, Pellets To Europe

Maine is poised to finally begin shipping wood chips to Europe for power generation next year if plans underway at Eastport and Searsport stay on schedule. After years of false starts, these developments would be especially welcome now, as the ongoing decline of the paper and in-state biomass power industries has hit hundreds of loggers […]

Maine is poised to finally begin shipping wood chips to Europe for power generation next year if plans underway at Eastport and Searsport stay on schedule.

After years of false starts, these developments would be especially welcome now, as the ongoing decline of the paper and in-state biomass power industries has hit hundreds of loggers and truckers who used to harvest and move fiber to Maine mills and generators. The value of U.S.-based wood fuel sent to the European Union in 2015 exceeded $684 million, according to export research firm WISERtrade, but none of it came from Maine.

The state’s first opportunity could come next year in Eastport, where the port authority has been working on export plans since 2009. A company it has partnered with is building special equipment that processes the chips to standards required in Europe. Chris Gardner, the authority’s director, said that while the equipment may be ready by year’s end, he thinks it’s more realistic to begin exporting wood chips in 2017.

“We have been reluctant to talk about this in the press,” he said. “We don’t want to put a lot of false hope into the market.”

Meanwhile, Arthur House, president and chief executive of Maine Woods Biomass Exports LLC, has begun making railroad ties and other wood products in Millinocket along a rail line that connects the North Woods with Searsport. The ties are being sent by rail to Quebec, but the work is a prelude to shipping logs through Searsport to India in January, and wood chips to Europe in early 2018.

From the Portland Press Herald: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/08/ports-gearing-up-for-chip-exports-to-eu/

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