The skyline at the North Carolina State Ports Authority marine terminal facility in the City of Wilmington has taken on a different look of late. It now features two white domes that are part of the newly developed bulk cargo storage and loading facility. The new system will be able to receive, store and load export wood pellets. The expected export throughput will total over one million tons per year.
When completed, the facility, expected to cost over $35 million, will share the port’s major marine terminal on property that is an extension of the marginal wharf and general cargo and container facilities already in place. The wood pellet terminal with receiving, storage and ship loading complexes, will include the domes, a conveying system leading to the existing but newly renovated dock and a ship loader. The bulk terminal is expected to be completed and is slated to begin operations late this year.
The State Port and wood pellet manufacturer and exporter Enviva have not officially released the opening date of the facility. When the facility is operational, wood pellets will be brought to the port by both truck and rail transportation. It is anticipated that the rail link will handle approximately 60% of the total volume of one million tons with the remainder of the product arriving by truck. All truck deliveries will be processed through the Port Authority’s gate system, prior to being received and unloaded at the Enviva domes.
Over the last four years, the State Port has been working with Enviva Partners LP and Enviva Development Holdings, both Maryland based companies. Enviva signed a 21-year lease with the port that also provides for two five-year renewal options. The new facility will be constructed without investment from the State or the port. The win/win agreement for the port was summed up by the port’s deputy executive director and chief operating officer, Jeff Miles, “We’re literally spending none of our money on this project,” he said.
Enviva Provides Energy Alternatives
Enviva’s sister companies were founded in 2004 with the primary goal of developing cleaner energy alternatives to fossil fuels. Since that time, Enviva has clearly established additional goals in their pursuit of producing and marketing wood pellets. Their major effort, to sell a product, comes with a strong belief that the process of doing business can be accompanied by major, social benefits. To date, they will have created the capacity to produce more than 2 million metric tons of product by the end of 2016.
Enviva entered the sustainable fuels market with accompanying goals of lowering emissions, increasing the health of U.S. forests and building strong communities. They now manufacture wood pellets at seven points in the southeastern United States, with the newest plant, located in Sampson, North Carolina, recently coming on line. They are now the largest producer of wood pellets in the world.
The manufacturing facility at Sampson will begin supplying wood pellets to Enviva’s Port of Wilmington facility via truck in September for loading of the first vessel in the 4th quarter of this year. The Sampson factory will have an annual capacity of 500,000 tons and the Enviva marine terminal in Wilmington will initially only handle pellets from this location. Enviva has indicated that the Wilmington terminal could handle a total of 2,000,000 tons, four times the Sampson factory’s capacity. Enviva will eventually utilize their Wilmington terminal’s rail capacity. The Enviva marine terminal in Chesapeake, Virginia, has the same total capacity as Wilmington, as a comparison, and handles pellets from three Enviva facilities, located in Southhampton Country, Virginia, Northampton County, North Carolina and Ahoskie, North Carolina.
In 2012, the United States’ exports of wood pellets totaled 1.6 million tons. In 2013, the total grew to 3.2 million tons. At that point, total exports had doubled with over 59% of the product going to the United Kingdom. With a capacity to export 1m tons from Wilmington, Enviva will play a key roll in increasing the overall market.