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24 Января 2018

RLL Container Report - 24 January 2018

From: John Keir, Ross Learmont Ltd. Email: john.keir@telia.com Date: 24 January 2018

Boxing wood pellets.

Wood pellets should be an ideal export product for Russia, as the main cultivation areas lie relatively close to the traditional trade routes to Europe and to Asia, along which currently travel trainloads of empty 20’ and 40’ HC containers that could be used to deliver bagged pellets to both overseas as well as domestic markets. Of course, the theory and the practice of supplying intermodal logistics in the more remote parts of Russia do take longer to reconcile with each other, especially when compared with competing areas such as Scandinavia. Here, there is already a highly developed logistical infrastructure for road, rail and seaports located close to the main timber cultivating areas. In Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, bagged wood pellets can tap into the existing North-South intermodal infrastructure of trucks and containers to distribute pellets to a growing band of commercial and domestic clients throughout Europe.

Russian wood pellet production is projected to grow from 1.013 million metric tons in 2016, to 4 million metric tons by 2020 and then to double that figure by 2025. Production figures, however, may not always accurately reflect the rapid countrywide growth in pellet production. In Russia, statistics primarily capture large-capacity facilities, while mid-sized and smaller facilities that operate as part of larger wood-processing plants do not separately report their pellet production. Producers located in the Russian Far East are well-placed to profit from an upturn in wood pellet demand from their near neighbours. In its latest five-year plan covering the period up to 2020, China has expressed support for pellets, especially with regard to “co-firing”, which would involve generating plants replacing some of their coal generation with wood pellets. At the same time, South Korea is openly embracing a policy of alternative energy resources. In 2015, South Korea imported 1.5 million tons of pellets but this figure could rise to 8.5 million tons by 2022, opening up a large market for those pellet producers in the Russian Far East, which have access to the ice-free ports in the Vladivostok – Nakhodka area.

Coincidentally, China is discussing with Russia’s Far East Investment and Export Agency a suitable site for a pulp-and-paper mill with a capacity of half a million tonnes per annum. The town of Amursk in the Khabarovsk territory has been proposed as a suitable location. If the plan is given the go-ahead, then Prospect Company Ltd of Japan may decide to open a neighbouring wood pellet plant with a capacity of 140,000 tons per annum plus a specially-designed pellet port terminal in the Khabarovsk region. This project would catapult Amursk into the top league of pellet producers in the Far East.

John Keir, Ross Learmont Ltd.
24 January 2018

Copyright ©, 2018, John Keir

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