Enviva ships first wood pellets from Chesapeake port

Published 11:32 am Tuesday, January 3, 2012

CHESAPEAKE—Enviva, which is developing a wood pellet manufacturing plant in Courtland, on Saturday made its first shipment from its new port in Chesapeake

The 28,000 metric tons of wood pellets are bound for one of Enviva’s European utility customers on board the MV Daishin Maru.

“As the biomass industry matures and export volumes rise into the millions of tons per year, we will need to translate our focus on safety, quality, and reliability, to storage and terminalling operations,” said John Keppler, chairman and chief executive officer for Enviva. “We expect Enviva’s Port of Chesapeake facility to be a flagship operation, demonstrating excellence in this area and proving our capability to build the sustainable infrastructure necessary to support the tremendous growth that is projected for solid, renewable biomass resources.”

Enviva in February purchased the Giant Cement Co. port terminal on the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake for $11.7 million to export its wood biomass products, including those made in Ahoskie.

Enviva installed a 45,000-metric ton silo to store wood pellets produced at its mid-Atlantic facilities and converted it to an export and import terminal. The investment in and expansion of the terminal required 25 contractors. The terminal’s permanent staff of 14, including both Enviva and Paradise Point Marine employees, is expected to double by the third year of operation under Enviva, which will use local maintenance contractors and other vendors whenever possible.

Southampton County officials in December sold 120 acres for $1.3 million at the Turner Tract industrial park to Enviva Courtland Pellets. Enviva plans to build a $75 million plant that will employ 64 workers.

Initially hoping to build on Shady Brook Trail, Enviva chose the industrial park after residents opposed the development of the plant on 327 acres zoned for agriculture and single-family homes. The company had an option to buy the property, assuming it could get the area rezoned to industrial.

Enviva then opted for the 493-acre Turner Tract, developed by the county on Rose Valley Road.

In November, Enviva opened its wood pellet facility in Ahoskie, N.C., and is building another in Northampton County, N.C. These new sites are strategically located near the Chesapeake port.