Posts Tagged ‘dissolving pulp’

Pulp Growth Ain’t Pulp Fiction – Embracing New Opportunities

Posted: Monday, June 28th, 2010

While “pulp fiction” may resonate with the hearts and minds of people, the wood pulp business sector sometimes results in a “hollow” response. While readers would not be able to turn the pages of their pulp fiction books or enjoy their cotton and rayon clothing without their wood pulp brethren, the pulp sector is often looked upon as sleepy.

Yawning all the way to the bank

While the pulp sector may appear quiet, the market players are “yawning” all the way to the bank. “Between 2002 and 2006, world exports of wood, pulp and paper products grew at an average annual rate of 10.6%,” reports Global-production.com Inc., a business economics consultancy. Despite the volatile economy, the upward price trend in market pulp continues across the world.

“The fundamentals of the pulp market continue to be very strong,” reports PulpWatch, a leading provider of business information and consultancy services to the international pulp and paper industry. “Pulp prices increased by $30-50/t in May, and are set to reach new records in Europe and North America in June. Producer inventories reached record lows in April, and consumer warehouses are similarly bare. European paper demand and order books have improved and prices for most grades are moving upwards, albeit at a slower pace than fiber prices.” This is currently a temporary cyclical high, but we will be getting out of this old product in approximately one year.

As a contrarian investor, I keep focused on industries widely considered to be depressed with an eye on purchasing world class assets at deeply discounted prices. My company recently paid $1.2 million to Fraser Papers for a facility in Quebec with an insured replacement cost of $851 million in assets. We are converting this operation into a specialty dissolving pulp operation. Dissolving wood pulp is chemically refined bleached pulp composed of pure cellulose fibers extracted from trees. Dissolving pulp is the major source for the natural cellulose used in the production of rayon.

Rayon – a very promising future

I believe rayon demand is at a tipping point around the world. The declining global production of cotton is insufficient to meet global textile industry demand; particularly with the rapidly expanding middle class in China and India. Industry analysts indicate that the rayon market has grown at 7% globally and over 10% in China for the last 5 years. Rayon is typically blended with other fibers and can logically displace the cotton shortfall. Rayon has high uniformity which leads to significant improvements in productivity in spinning and textile plants.

Rayon demand has revealed a gap in supply. Total dissolving pulp capacity in late 2007 was 2.4 million tonnes according to the CCF Group (China Chemical Fibers & Textiles Consultancy). Expansions and conversions with plants in Brazil, South Africa and Canada added 0.6 million tonnes of dissolving pulp capacity in 2008, but closures of many higher cost dissolving mills resulted in limited capacity to fill the increasing demand.

A specialty producer

Driven by overall textile demand and increasing preference for rayon over cotton, over one million tonnes of additional rayon capacity (dissolving pulp customers) was built in China in 2009 and an additional 0.5 to 0.7 million tonnes in China is planned to start-up in 2010. There is a current shortfall of approximately 0.5 million tonnes in annual rayon supply which is expected to continue during the next several years.

Rayon, derived from wood pulp, is a textile made from cellulose whose future is looking very promising which is why we sought to invest in this sector. With our Quebec facility, we are transforming an asset which was previously underutilizing its potential by operating as a high cost producer into a specialty product producer which is low-cost and globally competitive. Over 90% of the existing mill equipment is ideally suited to produce high quality specialty cellulose for the rayon textile industry.

The consumer advantages of rayon are clear as it is woven into soft, absorbent and comfortable fabric which supports vibrant colors and wears well. Rayon is one of the most widely used fabrics in the world which can be blended with man-made or natural fabrics. For many centuries, people have relied on plants and animals, such as silkworms, sheep and buffalo, to provide the materials needed for clothing. In our 21st century world, we look to technology and chemistry to create our fabrics. Rayon, dubbed “laboratory’s first gift to the loom” is widely considered to be one of the most versatile and economical man-made fibers available.

–Chadwick Wasilenkoff, Chairman & CEO of Fortress Paper Ltd.

SOURCE:
RISI: “Pulp Growth Ain’t Pulp Fiction – Embracing New Opportunities”

Fortress Paper Appoints Key Dissolving Pulp Managers for the Conversion of its Thurso Mill

Posted: Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – June 3, 2010) – Fortress Paper Ltd. (TSX:FTP) (“Fortress Paper” or the “Corporation”) announces the following appointments at its wholly-owned subsidiary, Fortress Specialty Cellulose Inc. (“Fortress Specialty”): Peter Vinall as President and Chief Executive Officer, Vincent Byrne as Vice President, Technical Development and Donald Deer as Projects Leader. In addition, Fortress Specialty has added Pierre Monahan to its Board of Directors.

In announcing the appointments, Chad Wasilenkoff, CEO of Fortress Paper commented: “We are very pleased to have someone of Peter Vinall’s extensive experience and track record joining our team. His appointment brings a wealth of experience in running some of the largest dissolving pulp mills in the world and he has a talent for building strong teams and leading business transformations. With Vince Byrne, Donald Deer, Marco Veilleux and Pierre Monahan, we will have an experienced team in place to implement our business plan at the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill.”

Peter Vinall commented: “Having recently relocated back to Canada, I am excited to now join the Fortress team and lead the conversion of the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill into a high quality specialty cellulose mill. The Mill has good access to fibre supply and a reputation for high quality NBHK production which will continue with the restart which is underway. Our aim is to leverage these strengths and transform the asset base with extensive technological upgrades and a state of the art cogeneration facility with the goal of becoming a low cost producer and industry leader in the specialty cellulose sector.”

Mr. Vinall has approximately 30 years of experience in the pulp and paper industry and was the former President of Sateri International Pulp Group, a global leader in the specialty cellulose business. Prior to joining Fortress Specialty, Mr. Vinall held the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of AV Group where he led the conversion of an NBHK pulp mill to produce dissolving pulp. Mr. Vinall obtained an MBA from Tulane University, New Orleans, and a B.E in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Vincent Byrne has over 30 years of engineering, operations and process optimization experience focused on commodity and specialty pulping processes. Most recently he acted as VP Technical and Engineering at AV Group where he led the development of the conversion of one of their New Brunswick mills into a dissolving pulp operation. Mr. Byrne obtained a B.Sc. in Chemistry from Massey University, New Zealand.

Donald Deer has approximately 40 years of engineering and construction experience in Canada and has managed in excess of $1 billion in capital spending for several major corporations including Tembec Inc. Most recently, Mr. Deer was responsible for construction and completion of the conversion of one of AV Group’s NBHK mills into a dissolving pulp operation. Mr. Deer also has recent experience designing cogeneration and energy optimization projects. Donald Deer has a B.E in Electrical Engineering from Queens University, Ontario and is a member of Professional Engineers Ontario.

Pierre Monahan is a highly experienced senior board member and executive director. Mr. Monahan was formerly the CEO of Alliance Forest Products Inc. and Executive Vice President of Bowater Canada Inc. during which time he oversaw its integration with Alliance Forest Products Inc., an acquisition valued at approximately $1 billion.

In addition Fortress announces that the former Operations Director of Fraser Paper’s Thurso Mill, Marco Veilleux, has been appointed Chief Operating Officer of Fortress Specialty Cellulose. Mr. Veilleux has led the Thurso operation since 2007 having developed his career in a series of operational and technical leadership roles in the pulp and paper sector in Eastern Canada. He was instrumental in initiating the cogeneration project and ensuring the Thurso assets are well positioned for the transformation. Mr. Veilleux has a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Sherbrooke.

About Fortress Paper

Fortress Paper is a leading international producer of security and other specialty papers and products. Fortress Paper operates three mills, the Landqart Mill located in Switzerland, the Dresden Mill located in Germany and the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill located in Quebec, Canada. Fortress Paper’s security papers include banknote, passport and visa papers and its specialty papers include non-woven wallpaper base products, and graphic and technical papers. Fortress Paper’s pulp business will include NBHK with the re-start of the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill with plans to convert this capacity into dissolving pulp production along with the construction of a biomass based cogeneration plant.

This news release contains certain forward-looking statements that reflect the current views and/or expectations of Fortress Paper with respect to its performance, business and future events, including statements relating to its plans to re-start, convert and build a biomass based cogeneration plant at the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill. Forward-looking statements are based on the then-current expectations, beliefs, assumptions, estimates and forecasts about the business and the industry and markets in which the Corporation operates, including assumptions relating to the Corporation’s ability to successfully implement its business plan in respect of the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill; that the Corporation will be able to receive all required approvals and complete construction of the cogeneration facility; and the expected effects of the cogeneration facility on the business of the Corporation. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions which are difficult to predict. Investors are cautioned that all forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties including, without limitation, that the Corporation will be unable to implement its business plan in respect of the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill as planned or at all; that the Corporation will be unable to receive all necessary approvals to begin construction of the cogeneration facility; and those risks relating to changes in the market, potential downturns in economic conditions, fluctuations in the price and supply of raw materials, foreign exchange fluctuations, labour relations, regulatory requirements, reputation, competition, dependence on major customers, and other risk factors listed from time to time in the Corporation’s public filings. These risks, as well as others, could cause actual results and events to vary significantly. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements and information, which are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement. Fortress Paper does not undertake any obligations to release publicly any revisions for updating any voluntary forward-looking statements, except as required by applicable securities law.

SOURCE:
Fortress Paper Ltd.

Pulp and Paper Canada: “Thurso’s Future Secure with Fortress”

Posted: Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

There’s a new kid on the block and he’s playing by a different set of rules. Brimming with confidence, enthusiasm, and steadfast resolution to succeed, Fortress Paper offers a fresh perspective for Canada’s pulp and paper sector.

With its recent acquisition of the idled Thurso pulp mill located in the Outaouais region of western Quebec, Vancouver-based Fortress Paper plans not only to make a splash on the market, but a significant profit, too. By ditching the production of northern bleached hardwood kraft pulp in favour of manufacturing dissolving pulp, the company is confident it won’t fall prey to the relentless profit losses so many Canadian forestry companies have witnessed.

“We’re expecting to generate $60 million (EBITDA) but could potentially see profits in the order of $200 million,” says Chad Wasilenkoff, president and CEO of Fortress Paper, with a confidence not often heard in this industry.

Wasilenkoff refers to himself as a “contrarian” investor, as he keeps a punctilious eye on industries widely considered to be depressed, only to pounce on opportunities to grab world class assets at heftily discounted prices. For his $3 million* purchase price, Wasilenkoff pocketed $85 million worth of assets in buying the Thurso facility from insolvent Fraser Papers.

Fortress Paper currently owns and operates two pulp mills in Europe — in Germany and Switzerland. With an emphasis on specialty papers, the company’s product portfolio includes non-woven wallpaper base products, graphic papers, and technical papers. Fortress officially incorporated in 2006, with the intention of taking a closer look at investments in the forestry sector. The company was not specifically seeking to invest in Canada, but had been observing the dissolving pulp market for a number of years. When the Thurso pulp mill came on the market, the timing and price were compelling.

The acquisition is also welcome news to the 320 people formerly employed by the mill, who will, with only a few minor exceptions, be back on the job in June 2010.

“The Quebec government was very interested in getting people back to work,” Wasilenkoff confirmed. “We were informed that not only does the mill provide work for 320 people, but an additional 2900 indirect jobs are supported by the operation, as well.” The provincial government’s motivation to see the facility up and running translated to a cash infusion of $102 million, in the form of a 10-year loan.

It’s money that Wasilenkoff anticipates no difficultly in repaying. “We’re extremely comfortable with the underlying fundamentals,” he says, explaining the overall growth in the market his newly purposed mill will be supplying. “Asia will be our biggest market, and the textile industry there is very strong. As more and more people move into middle income brackets, research indicates consumption of clothing increases, and yet, cotton is an expensive material to produce. Rayon has very similar characteristics to cotton but is more absorbent and breathable, and is less expensive to produce. As a result, the finished product almost always trades at a premium compared to cotton. We consider this to be a very, very low-risk and high-return venture.”

Fortress has two additional multi-million dollar goodies in its bag: the company is entitled to $10 million from the federal Green Transformation Program, as well as $15 million from the Green Infrastructure Fund. Both are initiatives designed to encourage green energy generation and environmentally-friendly production upgrades. Fortress’ decision to construct a biomass-based cogeneration plant at the facility to produce green electricity positioned the company to benefit from these grants.

The mill won’t be making an immediate switch from NBHK production to dissolving pulp, however. Thurso will continue to churn out kraft pulp for another full year before producing its new product line starting in June 2011. Once the transition is over, the mill will produce 200,000 tonnes of air-dried product annually. The company plans to capitalize on bolstered demand for NBHK first. Wasilenkoff expects the restructuring to be a smooth process, however, as it requires very little in the way of retrofitting. Much of the equipment currently in the mill will be suitable for the production of dissolving pulp as it shares much in common with the process of manufacturing NBHK.

With a secure and reasonably priced fibre source (the company has a 50% Crown allocation), a ready-made labour force, and strong market fundamentals, Fortress appears poised for success. Coupled with Chad Wasilenkoff’s unstoppable “can-do” attitude, Canada’s pulp and paper sector may have a new market leader, and mentor, for the future.

* After price adjustments, Wasilenkoff notes, the final price paid for the Thurso facility may be in the order of $900,000.

By Heather Lynch for Pulp and Paper Canada. June 2, 2010.

SOURCE:
Pulp and Paper Canada: “Thurso’s Future Secure with Fortress”

Pulp And Paper Canada: “Fortress Paper’s Thurso Mill Resumes Production Ahead of Schedule”

Posted: Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Fortress Specialty Cellulose Inc. began production and sale of NBHK pulp from the company’s mill in Thurso, Que., on May 28. The mill reopened May 1 after being shut down by its former owner in early 2009.

Chad Wasilenkoff, CEO of parent company Fortress Paper Ltd., commented: “We are pleased that production has commenced ahead of schedule and this will enable us to take advantage of the current strong NBHK pulp prices.”

Fortress Specialty’s Thurso Mill is expected to produce approximately 250,000 air dried metric tonnes per annum of high grade northern bleached hardwood kraft pulp. Fortress Specialty intends to produce NBHK pulp while undergoing transformation to become a dissolving pulp producer in mid 2011.

SOURCE:
Pulp And Paper Canada: “Fortress Paper’s Thurso Mill Resumes Production Ahead of Schedule”

NBHK Pulp Production Begins at Fortress Paper’s Thurso Mill

Posted: Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – June 1, 2010) – Fortress Paper Ltd. (“Fortress Paper” or the “Corporation”) (TSX:FTP) announces that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Fortress Specialty Cellulose Inc. (“Fortress Specialty”), commenced production and sale of NBHK pulp on May 28th. The mill reopened May 1st after being shut down by the former owner in early 2009.
Chad Wasilenkoff, CEO of Fortress Paper Ltd. commented: “The commencement of production at the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill marks the achievement of an important milestone at Thurso. We are pleased that production has commenced ahead of schedule and this will enable us to take advantage of the current strong NBHK pulp prices.”

Fortress Specialty’s Thurso Mill is expected to produce approximately 250,000 air dried metric tonnes per annum of high grade northern bleached hardwood kraft pulp. Fortress Specialty intends to produce NBHK pulp while undergoing transformation to become a dissolving pulp producer in mid 2011.

About Fortress Paper

Fortress Paper is a leading international producer of security and other specialty papers and products. Fortress Paper operates three mills, the Landqart Mill located in Switzerland, the Dresden Mill located in Germany and the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill located in Quebec, Canada. Fortress Paper’s security papers include banknote, passport and visa papers and its specialty papers include non-woven wallpaper base products, and graphic and technical papers. Fortress Paper’s pulp business will include NBHK with the re-start of the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill with plans to convert this capacity into dissolving pulp production along with the construction of a biomass based cogeneration plant.

This news release contains certain forward-looking statements that reflect the current views and/or expectations of Fortress Paper with respect to its performance, business and future events, including statements relating to its plans to re-start, convert and build a biomass based cogeneration plant at the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill. Forward-looking statements are based on the then-current expectations, beliefs, assumptions, estimates and forecasts about the business and the industry and markets in which the Corporation operates, including assumptions relating to the Corporation’s ability to successfully implement its business plan in respect of the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill; that the Corporation will be able to receive all required approvals and complete construction of the cogeneration facility; and the expected effects of the cogeneration facility on the business of the Corporation. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions which are difficult to predict. Investors are cautioned that all forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties including, without limitation, that the Corporation will be unable to implement its business plan in respect of the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill as planned or at all; that the Corporation will be unable to receive all necessary approvals to begin construction of the cogeneration facility; and those risks relating to changes in the market, potential downturns in economic conditions, fluctuations in the price and supply of raw materials, foreign exchange fluctuations, labour relations, regulatory requirements, reputation, competition, dependence on major customers, and other risk factors listed from time to time in the Corporation’s public filings. These risks, as well as others, could cause actual results and events to vary significantly. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements and information, which are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement. Fortress Paper does not undertake any obligations to release publicly any revisions for updating any voluntary forward-looking statements, except as required by applicable securities law.

SOURCE:
Fortress Paper Ltd.