Rentech, Inc. announced today that start-up of the Atikokan wood pellet facility has begun. During the next few weeks, the plant will undergo safety inspections, equipment testing, and final commissioning.
Sean Ebnet, senior vice president of Rentech’s wood fibre business, said, “I’m pleased to reach this important milestone at the Atikokan facility. Our Canadian team has done a superb job managing the construction of Rentech’s first two pellet plants, through one of the worst winters on record. We are excited about beginning operations and bringing jobs back to these communities. The staff we have assembled at both facilities has deep experience operating large fibre mills, and includes the key members of the teams that ran the Atikokan and Wawa mills when they operated as fiberboard and oriented strand board facilities.”
The company expects the Atikokan facility to produce pellets in the coming weeks. The existing arrangement of delivering third-party pellets to Ontario Power Generation (OPG) will be curtailed as the Atikokan facility ramps up production. The total design capacity of the Atikokan wood pellet facility is 100,000 tonnes. Under the terms of the long-term contract, OPG will purchase 45,000 tonnes of pellets annually from the Atikokan facility at the plant gate. The remaining output will be available for sale to OPG or other customers.
Delays in equipment deliveries by certain vendors have prolonged construction and start-up of the Canadian pellet plants. Commissioning and start-up of the Wawa facility are expected to begin in November and continue through the end of the year, with production to follow. The first shipment of pellets to Drax is expected to occur in the second quarter of 2015, in coordination with Drax’s ship schedule. All major equipment is in place at Wawa, and certain critical items, including the drying system, bark furnace and both log cranes, have already been commissioned and are operational. Other than the equipment delivery delays, construction of both projects has proceeded as planned.