Monday, September 19, 2011

ENERGY: Under Chinese ownership, one of the dirtiest of USA's mills will convert to natural gas.

Long designated as among the 10% dirtiest operations in the US of A. the pulp mill located in Baileyville/Woodland, Maine on the international St. Croix River was recently purchased by interests from China and Taiwan. This announcement that they will convert to natural gas may be good news for those who have been pushing for this operation to control its airborne and waterborne pollution which is known to have contributed to the collapse of nearshore fisheries in Passamaquoddy Bay, fisheries estimated to have been worth $10 - $20 million dollars before 1964. A cursory review of clear-cutting in the area still leads one to wonder where or not the forests of Maine and New Brunswick can continue to absorb this abuse. Certainly the collapse of similar operations make one wonder just what will happen over the next few years. Or is there another reason? Perhaps to exert influence here at the nexus for all energy and products flowing to the US from Canada.

"May you be born in interesting times"!
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Baileyville pulp mill to get natural gas with $12M conversion
By Sharon Kiley Mack, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 18, 2011, at 5:36 p.m.

BAILEYVILLE, Maine — The Maine Bureau of Protection recently approved the linkage of Baileyville’s mill — formerly Domtar and now Woodland Pulp LLC — to a natural gas pipeline. The conversion is expected to cost $12 million but will save millions in fuel costs for the company.

“The pipeline is under construction, as of last week,” Scott Beal, mill spokesman, said this week. “We expect it to be active by the end of the year. This an absolutely amazing project for us.”

The former Domtar pulp mill in Baileyville was bought a year ago by Grand Investment Corp. of China and Taiwan for $64 million and renamed Woodland Pulp LLC. The new owners are investing $12 million to convert the oil powered facility to natural gas.

Earlier this year, Beal said, the project was given a huge boost when the Maine Legislature approved allowing the mill to be regulated by the Maine Public Utilities Commission rather than federal agencies. This move will allow the project to be completed a year earlier than otherwise.

Beal said the legislative action filled a statutory gap. Usually, the Maine PUC can only regulate utilities and not private companies. With the change, the PUC now will regulate the project, which Beal said ensures the mill’s future growth.

Beal said the primary reason for the conversion is to save fuel. “Last year, we used 10.3 million gallons of No. 6 oil,” Beal said in an interview at the time of the Legislative approval. “Because the price fluctuates, we cannot precisely say how much we will save but we estimate that there will be a one-year payback of this investment in avoided costs.”

The mill, which makes hardwood pulp used in manufacturing paper, will be linking with the Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline that runs through Maine about 4½ miles north of the mill.

Maritimes and Northeast’s natural gas transmission main originates at Sable Island in Nova Scotia and crosses New Brunswick into Maine, continuing through to Westbrook where it interconnects with the Portland Natural Gas Transmission System. The pipeline crosses the border at the St. Croix River north of the Baileyville pulp mill and was installed in 2000.

Beal said this week that the economic benefits of the project are clear. Woodland Pulp LLC employs 310 people and is an important economic engine in Washington County.

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