Tissue360 - Fall/Winter 2015 - (Page 6)
Bright Spots in the Cloud Over Maine
Entering the 21st century,
the U.S. state of Maine had a strong
pulp and paper industry. It was No. 2
in national pulp and paper output in
2000, down a little from its lofty No. 1
position some years earlier. But since
then, a persistent decline in printing and
writing paper demand, coupled with a
struggling economy, high energy and
fiber costs, and foreign competition have pushed the paper industry
there near the edge of collapse.
A series of mill closures beginning in 2007 crippled many small
town economies in Maine. In 2006, there were 28 pulp and paper mills
operating in the state, and in 2007, that number had fallen to 18. In 2013,
the number fell to 12, and then in 2014, three more mill closures were
announced - Great Northern Paper at East Millinocket, Old Town Fuel
and Fiber, and Verso Paper Corp's Bucksport mill. Two of these mills -
East Millinocket and Bucksport - were producing newsprint or coated
publication papers for books, both of which have progressively fallen
victim to digital communications.
Just this past August, Verso announced major reductions in coated
paper and pulp production by shutting down the No. 1 pulp dryer and No.
2 paper machine at its Androscoggin Mill in Jay, Maine, and indefinitely
idling its mill in Wickliffe, Kentucky. Together, these actions will reduce
Verso's production capacity by 430,000 tons of coated paper and 130,000
tons of market pulp. Verso is implementing these cuts this quarter. On
September 1, Catalyst Paper announced the indefinite shutdown of its
Rumford, Maine, mill's No. 12 coated paper machine, which had been
temporarily curtailed for market-related reasons four months earlier.
The continuing secular decline of North America's P&W paper
industry is clearly evident in figures maintained by the Pulp and Paper
Products Council. PPPC data show demand for coated paper down 4.7
percent in the first half of 2015, following declines of 3.4 percent and
4.3 percent in 2014 and 2013, respectively.
The Old Town mill is an encouraging bright spot in the otherwise dark
cloud hanging over Maine's paper industry. It was acquired by Expera
Specialty Solutions, a Wisconsin-based producer of specialty paper,
KEN PATRICK, Editorial Director/Associate Publisher
LARRY N. MONTAGUE, President & CEO, TAPPI
ERIC FLETTY, VP Operations, TAPPI
GLENN OSTLE, Editorial Director/Associate
which now uses Old Town pulp to make packaging sector products at
its Wisconsin operations.
Another very bright spot is the St. Croix tissue mill getting ready to
start up the first of two Andritz tissue machines by the end of this year
and the second one in April of next year. This mill is located adjacent to
the Woodland Pulp mill in Baileyville, Maine, and will supply slush pulp
directly to the two tissue machines (60,000 tpy each), with the rest of its
production exported around the world. A detailed report on the St. Croix
Tissue and Woodland Pulp operations begins on page 10 of this issue.
Along with the 19 closures mentioned, the Woodland Pulp mill itself
was closed indefinitely in 2009, and the outlook for Baileyville darkened.
But a series of fortunate events helped bring the mill back to life. In 2010,
Delaware-based International Grand Investment Corp. bought Woodland
Pulp from Domtar and began developing plans for the new St. Croix tissue
mill and a sparkling new lease on life for the mill and northeastern Maine.
Prior to the St. Croix "rebirth," Woodland was a struggling single-line
commodity pulp mill, having shuttered its only fine paper line in 2010.
Post-St. Croix, it will make a highly value-added product with about
25 percent of its fiber.
One other bright-spot survival struggle by a Maine mill, Lincoln Paper
& Tissue (LP&T) in Lincoln, Maine, is outlined in an article beginning on
page 19. LP&T was purchased out of bankruptcy in 2004. New financing
was put in place in 2005, and a new tissue machine was ordered in 2006.
As Keith Van Scotter, president and CEO of LP&T, explains, "Restarting
the mill required cultural and operational changes. We've taken some
body blows on our journey."
One of those "body blows" was the November 2013 smelt explosion
in the pulp mill's recovery boiler. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the
outcome was the closure of the pulp mill, requiring LP&T to purchase its
kraft pulp. Two uncoated freesheet paper machines were also shut down.
This would collapse most mills, but LP&T turned adversity into
opportunity. It completely revamped its fiber procurement program,
took advantage of pipeline natural gas, rebuilt its power plant to utilize
biomass, and built on its strengths in tissue and toweling. Today, LP&T
is much better positioned for long-term survival.
Editorial Director/Associate Publisher, Tissue360o
BK Publication Design
MONICA SHAW, Editorial Director, TAPPI Journal
SAMANTHA GEIER, Online Exclusives Editor
FALL / WINTER 2015
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Tissue360 - Fall/Winter 2015
Tissue Industry News
St. Croix Tissue Ready to Start New Mill in Maine
Lincoln P&T Turns Adversity into Opportunity
Second iT’s Tissue Attracts 1,000-Plus Visitors to Italy
Resolute’s Tissue Announcement a Sign of the Future in Tissue?
Tissue360 - Fall/Winter 2015