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Record Log Exports Through Lyttelton Port

A buoyant log export market, fine late summer weather and a new log exporter has resulted in PF Olsen exporting a record volume of logs through Port Lyttelton in March. During the month PF Olsen delivered over 7,000 JAS m3 of Radiata pine for export via log exporter Tenco Limited.

"We are very pleased with this result", says Scott Downs, PF Olsen's Regional Manager. "For some time we have been working on improving forest owner returns by establishing an independent log exporting operation in partnership with Tenco (a New Zealand-based exporter of logs and sawn timber)."

It's important to note that the log exports are not conflicting with the domestic processing sector. "We make sure that domestic log demand is satisfied with the right grade of logs before directing logs to export", points out Scott. "At present the down-turn in the Australasian housing and construction sectors is reducing domestic log demand and log exports are a valuable component of the marketing mix".

The project has also been crucially assisted by support from the team at Lyttelton Port. Due to a downturn in car imports, some unused space became available at the port. After negotiations with PF Olsen and Tenco, this area of land was leased by PF Olsen and made available to Tenco to commence its log export operations. "We are very appreciative of Lyttelton Port's support", says Peter Weblin, PF Olsen's Marketing Manager. "We are impressed with the Port Company's strong commercial orientation and understanding of how important it is for ports to be an impartial export gateway."

Another key supporter in the project was Selwyn Plantation Board. They saw an opportunity to improve their harvesting returns and have backed the entry of Tenco on the Port.

Logs in storage at Lyttelton Port awaiting loading for export.

Initially Tenco started exporting logs through Lyttelton Port in containers. During much of last year break bulk shipping rates were very high, and container shipping rates much more competitive. This initiative got Tenco started at Lyttelton Port and gave them the confidence to switch to break-bulk as soon as the competitive situation changed back in favour of bulkers.

On a recent visit to the Port, however, Ronnie Moore, Port of Lyttelton's Customer Relationship Manager, pointed out that it's not all plain-sailing handling logs in a port that is such close proximity to the town of Lyttelton. Noise and dust are two issues that have to be managed carefully to minimise disruption to the community. Noise is closely monitored and controlled and dust is minimised by operating on sealed surfaces and periodically spraying water over the site.

Port Lyttelton is a good example of mixed land use. This photo shows logs being unloaded from a truck to stock with the Lyttelton town immediately adjacent in the background. From what we could see, the Port Company does a great job of balancing the demands of an efficiently operating port and the needs of the community.

PF Olsen forest owner clients are benefiting from the new independent export option at Port Lyttelton and improved harvesting returns.

Harvesting returns at George Gould's 8.5 hectare Radiata pine woodlot at Glenmark have benefited from the good prices being achieved for export logs supplied to Tenco at Lyttelton Port.