Log exports to Asia are up
By Wood Resources International LLC
July 18, 2014 - North America continues to supply China, Japan and other Asian countries with logs for their forest products sectors. Log exports from the US and Canada in the Q1/14 were up 14% from last year, with shipments from the US South having increased the most.
North American log exports to Asia over the past several years have boosted profitability for timberland owners while challenging the domestic solid wood sector mainly in northwestern US and Coastal British Columbia. In the 1Q/14, the North American export volume was 14% higher than in Q1/13 and 30% more than the same quarter in 2012. Almost 53% of the overseas exports have been shipped from the US Northwest, while 41% was from British Columbia and the remaining share of shipments were split between Alaska, California and the US South.
There are nine ports that handle breakbulk log shipments along the US West Coast. The Port of Longview in Southwest Washington exports more logs than all the other eight ports combined, according to Jones Stevedoring. In the past five quarters, each of the eight ports shipped an average of one vessel per month, while the Port at Longview loaded one vessel for Asia every three days. The major exporting companies at this location are Chugoku, Weyerhaeuser, Pacific Lumber & Shipping, Sojitz and TPT.
Coastal British Columbia is also a major supplier of logs to the Asian markets, with a majority of the timber originating from private timberlands on Vancouver Island. Over the past year, shipments have been approximately 1.5 million m3 per quarter, which is up from an average of 1.2 million m3 per quarter during 2011 and 2012.
Perhaps the most interesting development the past year has been the sharp increase in shipments of logs in containers from the US South. These exports have been mainly to China and India. Although the total volume is still relatively small as compared to the US West Coast export volumes, the US South share of total overseas exports from the US was over six per cent during the first five months of this year as compared to only two per cent for the same period in 2012.
Total shipments of southern yellow pine were up 130% for the period January through May this year compared to the same period last year, and volumes are already 70% more than they were for all of 2012. Combined with the first reported bulk shipload departing from the Port of Baton Rouge in May, we are likely to see increased exports of logs from the Southern states in the coming years.
The North American Wood Fiber Review has tracked wood fibre markets in the US and Canada for over 20 years and it is the only publication that includes prices for sawlogs, pulpwood, wood chips and biomass in North America. The 36-page quarterly report includes wood market updates for 15 regions on the continent in addition to the latest export statistics for sawlogs, wood pellets and wood chips.