Canadian Biomass Magazine

Pinnacle breaks record for largest load of wood pellets shipped from Canada

June 11, 2020
By Gordon Murray, WPAC

A cargo hold being filled with wood pellets at Pinnacle’s Westview Terminal, Prince Rupert, Canada. Photo credit: Pinnacle Renewable Energy

On May 29, 2020, Pinnacle Renewable Energy set a new record for the largest load of wood pellets ever shipped from Canada when the Panamax-class vessel MV Siboney M departed Westview Terminal at the Port of Prince Rupert, B.C., with 63,601 tonnes of wood pellets bound for the United Kingdom. A Panamax is the largest vessel class in terms of width and length that is able to pass through the lock chambers in the old Panama Canal.

Currently steaming south off the west coast of Mexico, the MV Siboney M will soon reach Panama. Then it will sail northeast to the Port of Immingham in the UK where it is set to arrive by the end of June. From Immingham, the wood pellets will be transloaded into rail wagons and taken to a biomass power station where they will be turned into low-carbon renewable electricity.

Successfully loading this shipment for the UK was mission-critical for Pinnacle’s small marine logistics team: Eugene Lupynis, director; Steve Robin, terminal manager; and Brenna Boyle, safety and operations coordinator. This was confirmed in a message to all UK energy sector suppliers from the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma, who said,

“At this unparalleled time for our nation, I want to pay tribute to you for your role in ensuring the security of our supplies, keeping our most critical infrastructure operating safely and securely, and for making sure homes and businesses right across the UK are receiving the energy they need.

The work you are doing around the clock to maintain our energy system is vital: keeping fuel flowing, the lights on, our buildings heated and cooled, and ensuring we have access to hot water. This work is an essential part of our response to coronavirus (COVID-19). During these challenging times, you are enabling essential services to continue to keep the public safe, including the most vulnerable in our society.”

Lupynis, Robin, Boyle and their colleagues at Pinnacle’s Westview Terminal loaded the ship under enhanced COVID-19 safety requirements including measures such as screening and reporting requirements for ship crews, extra cleaning procedures, hand washing, sanitizing frequently touched surfaces, limiting shore side interactions, keeping physical distancing in the workplace and using additional protective gear.

Vaughan Bassett, Pinnacle’s senior vice-president of sales and logistics, is proud of his team’s efforts.

“This is great progress for Pinnacle to be knocking on the door of the world record once again,” he said. “It’s also good for the carbon intensity of pellets coming off the west coast, where increasing shipment sizes can significantly improve this metric.

“A special shout-out goes to Eugene, Steve, Brenna and the team at Westview for making this happen, despite the physical distancing and the other unique challenges brought on by COVID-19.”

Setting such milestones is almost old hat for Pinnacle’s marine team. Five years ago, on June 2, 2015, Pinnacle loaded the MV Popi S, the first ever Panamax shipment of wood pellets at Westview Terminal, which, at nearly 60,000 tonnes, was at the time the largest load of wood pellets ever shipped anywhere in the history of the industry.

Although Pinnacle’s current load has set the Canadian record, it falls just 306 tonnes shy of a vessel loaded at the Port of Baton Rouge, La., in March 2020. That vessel – the MV Zheng Zhi – held 63,907 tonnes of wood pellets which were also shipped to the UK. Pinnacle’s marine team are always up for a little friendly rivalry with their friends at other international wood pellet terminals, so it is likely that this record will not stand for long.

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