Wood chips are loaded into a hold on the Kutai Express by conveyor. (David G. Sellars/for Peninsula Daily News)

Wood chips are loaded into a hold on the Kutai Express by conveyor. (David G. Sellars/for Peninsula Daily News)

ON THE WATERFRONT: Wood chips expressed from Port Angeles to China

THE KUTAI EXPRESS moored to the Port of Port Angeles’ Terminal 3 on Tuesday.

The ship is a wood chips carrier that is 656 feet long. The Panamanian flagged vessel will be dockside for about a week as crews load it with 3.6 million cubic feet of hemlock wood chips that will be shipped to China.

I spoke with Bart Nollen, whose company Ginkgo Trading is responsible for developing this business line in Port Angeles. Ginkgo has been buying hemlock logs and chipping them at their facility at the Eclipse Industrial Park west of Port Angeles. Additionally they have purchased residual chips from Interfor which are part of this shipment to China.

Why would China want a shipload of wood chips? Unknown to me, I readily admit, there is a process by which the chips are processed into pulp and the pulp into spools of rayon from which clothing is made.

The specifications for the wood chips are exacting. Doug Jones who works with SGS North America, a certification and inspection company, was on site taking samples that will be sent to Houston where they will be tested for moisture content and proper sizing.

It was quite a process getting the wood chips into the holds of the ship. Tractor trailers loaded with chips were backed up to a platform called a razer tail, chips were then dumped into a hopper, picked up by a conveyor belt and carried to the ship by a series of portable conveyor belts — each approximately 70 feet long — that are known as jump conveyors. The final section of the conveyor belt nearest the ship is called the Tele Stacker. It is the one piece of equipment that can be raised above the height of the ship’s main deck and positioned over the holds to control the distribution of the wood chips into the hold.

Bart said his goal is to load three or four ships a year in Port Angeles for export. He said he is also hopeful of developing a program of converting the slash in the forest that is typically left over after a logging operation into woodchips that would be shipped to Japan for use in biomass power plants.

I spoke with Karen Goschen, the executive director for the Port of Port Angeles. She said the Port is excited to be a partner with Gingko Trading which is supplying a majority of the chips being loaded aboard the Kutai Express. Suppliers of the raw materials that are made into chips can now participate in a global market.

She went on to say she was very pleased at how well staff, customers and businesses worked together on this. Without the Port’s recent investment in the new head-tie dolphin, this size of vessel could not have been accommodated at Terminal 3.

This activity diversifies revenues at our marine terminals and results in additional jobs on the waterfront.

Monday Tesoro Petroleum provided bunkers to Torm Emilie a 749-foot crude oil tanker that is flagged in Denmark.

Thursday Tesoro refueled the 896-foot crude oil tanker Polar Discovery. Later that same day they provided bunkers to Spring Progress, a 751-foot Panamanian flagged bulk cargo ship.

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David G. Sellars is a Port Angeles resident and former Navy boatswain’s mate who enjoys boats and strolling the area’s waterfronts and boat yards.

Items and questions involving boating, marina and industrial activities and the North Olympic Peninsula waterfronts are always welcome. News announcements about boating groups, including yacht clubs and squadrons, are welcome as well.

Email [email protected] or phone him at 360-808-3202.

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