PBEC & SUMITOMO CORPORATION
In 1994, John Swaan in partnership with Carrier Lumber developed a new type of forestry business in Prince George. John had learned that you could take sawmill waste-wood that had traditionally been disposed of in beehive burners and make wood pellets that could heat homes and buildings. Pelletflame was started using basic equipment borrowed from the grain industry. Slowly beehive burners started disappearing from sawmills in Prince George and the air quality improved as a result. In 1998, John and his team discovered the bulk wood pellet market in Europe and began to shift away from the domestic ‘bag market’ to bulk production for European customers. Demand for bulk shipments of pellets soon outgrew the capacity of the 1st plant.
In 2005 a 30-acre site was purchased and in 2007 a new plant capable of producing 175,000 tons per year was commissioned. Pelletflame was re-structured that same year under the new name Pacific BioEnergy Corporation (PBEC). The plant was expanded a few years later to become one of the largest in Canada with an annual production of 350,000 tons. Around this time power producers in Asian markets began importing wood pellets as biomass fuel for their plants. PBEC like other pellet producers were soon shipping wood pellets to customers in both Europe and Asian markets. This business development hit a level when on July 20, 2017, Sumitomo Corporation of Japan announced that it had purchased a 48% stake in PBEC. The deal means new capital for PBEC and the opportunity to buy out a European partner which owned 34% of the Prince George Plant. The plant is now fully-owned by PBEC and the future looks bright for both PBEC and Prince George! KBC has been proud to provide PR and Communications services to PBEC for the past decade and congratulates both PBEC and Sumitomo Corporation on their new partnership.
Photo: PBEC VP Operations Shawn Bells and a team from CKPG TV News on July 21, 2017, discussing the purchase of 48% of PBEC by Sumitomo Corporation.