PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

February 21, 2013

Port contract means new long-term jobs

PORT ARTHUR — By the end of this summer, 100 trucks will be delivering wooden pellets to the Port of Port Arthur every 24 hours as part of a 25-year contract to export the pellets to Europe, said Floyd Gaspard, executive port director.

The company, German Pellets, is the largest manufacturer of wooden pellets in Europe and recently started construction on a pellet production facility in Woodville, which is about 75 miles north of the port.

But the company has also started construction on a storage and loading facility at the port — something that will permanently alter the skyline of Port Arthur. German Pellets should finish building the five, 85-foot tall pellet silos and accompanying enclosed conveyor belt by the end of the summer, Gaspard said.

That is when the trucks would start trundling through the city, transferring wooden pellets from the Woodville production facility to the silos at the port. But you probably will not notice the trucks, Gaspard said.

The wooden pellets would then be shipped from the port to a British power station that has been converted to use pellets instead of coal, according to a German Pellets press release. The conversion was part of Britain’s effort to use more sustainable fuel.

The contract with German Pellets has led to a series of construction jobs at the port and in Woodville, but that is not all, Gaspard said. Truck drivers, longshoremen, tugboat operators, shipping agents and silo and conveyor belt operators would all be needed for the pellet project.

Over a six-month period, Gaspard said, anywhere from 25 to 50 full-time construction jobs would be filled at the port.

Linda Spears, president of the port’s board of commissioners, said she was overjoyed by the wooden pellets project.

“We look forward to a long relationship with [German Pellets],” she said.

The contract was a culmination of staff and board efforts, Spears said, and she was sure other opportunities for the port would soon follow.

German Pellets approached the port about a potential export and adjoining storage facility contract, Gaspard said. The company looked at other Gulf Coast ports, including Beaumont, but Port Arthur’s proximity to the yellow pine trees of East Texas and available land to build upon contributed to securing the contract.

Wooden pellets are small, cylindrical pieces of untreated dry wood. No chemical binders are used to make the pellets, just raw material such as saw dust and wood shavings obtained from the castoffs of sawmills and the timber industry, according to the German Pellets website. The pellets burn no more carbon dioxide than what would be released through natural decay and burn less sulfur dioxide than fossil fuels.

email: bcrum@panews.com

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