After two years of searching, the Port of Virginia has a long-term tenant for its Portsmouth Marine Terminal.
The Virginia Port Authority announced Wednesday that it approved a 20-year lease with ecoFUELS Pellet Storage LLC, a Virginia company that exports wood pellets to Europe for biomass energy production.
The company will occupy about 15 acres at PMT, which has been idle since container operations were moved to the nearby APM Terminals facility in January 2011. It plans to build a pair of domes to house the pellets and ready them for export. The facility will be designed to handle a minimum of 1.2 million tons of pellets per year.
Pellets will be delivered to the facility by truck and rail.
The VPA has sought since its 2010 lease deal with APMT to convert the 200-acre Portsmouth Terminal on the Elizabeth River to breakbulk, bulk, roll-on/roll-off or project cargo operations to diversity its cargo business. Early this year, a large potash manufacturer scraped Portsmouth from consideration as a location for a new plant to melt sulfur pellets because of community opposition.
The port authority has about 100 acres left to lease at Portsmouth, spokesman Joe Harris said. About 50 acres are currently being used by ocean carriers as a storage yard for empty containers and another 45 acres are being leased as a lay-up area for equipment and supplies by a construction contractor working on the Mid-Town Tunnel expansion.
PMT was the best site on the U.S. East Coast for shipping pellets, ecoFUELS officials said. - Eric Kulisch