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Wood pellet exporter signs lease at Portsmouth Marine Terminal

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The Virginia Port Authority finalized on Wednesday a 20-year lease at its Portsmouth Marine Terminal (PMT) to a Virginia company that plans to export wood pellets to Europe.

ecoFUELS Pellet Storage LLC will lease 15 acres at PMT and will build a pair of domes on the site to house and prepare wood pellets for export. The company expects to be operational by the second quarter of 2014, according to Peter O’Keefe, a partner at ecoFUELS.

“ecoFUELS has been set up to take advantage of the growing biomass market in Europe,” O’Keefe said Wednesday. “This will be the first of our operations…and we are thrilled with the port’s decision to accept our business plan.”

PMT has been vacant since January 2011, after port authority operations were moved to APM Terminals following the port authority’s 20-year lease of the marine terminal in Portsmouth. The investment by ecoFUELS will be the port’s first tenant at PMT, and the authority is continuing to work with other potential tenants, according to Joe Harris, media and public relations manager at the port. The port has aimed to bring bulk and breakbulk cargo operations to the facility.

ecoFUELS was formed by McLean-based Capital Management International (CMI), which invests in renewable energy projects, and Houston-based multiFUELS LP, which invests in a variety of energy projects. O’Keefe and Terry McAuliffe, a former gubernatorial candidate, are partners at both CMI, and in ecoFUELS.

O’Keefe said ecoFUELS chose PMT because of its deepwater terminals and location on the Eastern Seaboard. “We think it is the most favorable location for exporting pellets into Europe, and we are very excited about this opportunity,” O’Keefe said. “It is one of the most efficient port locations on the East Coast. It has a deepwater draft, which allows for any type of vessel to be used in the transport of pellets.”

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