By Leo Quigley, AJOT
The demand for raw logs and lumber by China has driven up volumes at most West Coast ports and the Port of Longview, located on the Columbia River, is no exception.
Valerie Harris, Director of Marketing for the port, informed AJOT that export log traffic to the end of May this year has increased to 186,924 tons from 60,113 tons for the same period last year.
The port’s export log traffic, she said, is supported by customers “Who want a competitive option to the Weyerhaeuser’s Longview Export Log Facility - which is right next door to the Port of Longview”.
Weyerhaeuser, one of the world’s largest lumber companies, announced that it was moving its log facilities from the Port of Tacoma to the ports of Olympia and Longview, WA. in the spring of 2009.
The increase in export log traffic was instrumental in providing the port with record operating revenues in 2009 of $25,115,703. In a statement earlier this year port Executive Director, Ken O’Hollaren credit the log business for helping to offsetting a downturn in steel traffic.
“While both imports and exports were up for the year, there was a significant shift in cargos. The overall picture for the year showed a decrease in handling steel products, with a strong increase in logs, bulks and wind energy cargo,” he said.
Adding to the revenues generated by log traffic was the fact that, according to Harris, the port did not have to make any major capital expenditures to handle the increased volumes. However, she said future capital investments may be included in the port’s master plan.
Lumber industry analysts have credited China for the bulk of the increase in raw log and lumber exports. In recent years marketing initiatives by North American producers have generated an increased interest by the building industry in that country in wood construction rather than traditional cement. Also, increased tariffs imposed by Russia, formerly a major supplier of logs to China, together with an increase in transportation costs, have made North American logs more competitive.