The agreement between the ports and WoodFuels, LLC would allow for construction of a wood pellet export facility at the Port of Morehead City. According to terms of the agreement, WoodFuels would finance and build a $25 million export facility at the port to receive, store and load wood pellets for export to Europe, where they would be used as a renewable energy source.

Under the 20-year agreement, the facility would receive its first pellets for shipment in late 2014. After the initial operational year, revenue will range between $1.2 million and $2 million annually. On average, this deal could result in $840,000 annually in Ports operating revenue that would be used to reinvest into the Port of Morehead City. It is also expected to support at least 150 direct and indirect jobs between the port and other North Carolina locations.

“This agreement is another example of our efforts to enhance our ports and ensure that North Carolina has the infrastructure in place to support growing industries that are critical to our state’s continued economic success,” NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata said. “This is the third multi-million dollar deal the ports have closed in the last eight months. I want to thank the team that is working so hard to bring jobs to eastern North Carolina.”

“I’d like to thank the Council of State for their leadership on this issue,” said Governor Pat McCrory. “I am pleased to see that our port infrastructure is playing a role in helping North Carolina, and various industries, grow our economy and create jobs.”

According to forest-industry experts at N.C. State University, U.S. production of wood pellets is expected to increase from 3 million tons just four short years ago, to nearly 10 million tons by 2015. With its vast amount of renewable and sustainable wood fiber sources, North Carolina is an attractive location for wood biomass plants. Earlier this year, the Authority completed a deal with Enviva Holdings, LP to construct and operate a similar facility at the Port of Wilmington. That facility is scheduled to open in early 2015.

“North Carolina is well-positioned to be part of an emerging biomass industry, and continued improvements at our state ports will help tremendously,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “In addition, new opportunities such as this one will help revitalize our state’s forest products industry.”