Unania mill to
start pellet production
By James Ronald Skains
"It is happening, we are now receiving round wood for chipping in our pellet mill operation which will start up in mid-July," Monroe Enterkin, plant manager of the Urania Pellet mill told the Piney Woods Journal.
"We have been taking about 50 loads of wood a day for the last week and will gradually increase that amount up to 100 loads a day once we start making pellets. Our target date to start making pellets is in mid-July, hopefully no later than Monday July 18th. We have about 40 people on staff and will increase that number to between 60 and 70 employees as we get into production."
"The German Pellet situation has been very tough to live through for all of us," Enterkin, a native of LaSalle Parish, noted. "At the worst of times I didn't lose hope because I knew that this mill could be very profitable for the right operators."
"Also, I was aware that the market for pellets in Europe was strong and growing. All the things were in place for a very profitable pellet manufacturing operation. We have a state of the art manufacturing facility here in Urania, good employees, plenty of raw products within a short distance of the mill, and good quality vendors. I knew that it was only a matter of time before our major problems would be behind us and we could concentrate on making pellets and expanding our operations."
"I think Mike Kline, our procurement forester, will start taking chips about the same time as we start making pellets," Enterkin continued. "In some ways, it is easier for us to chip the round wood to our specifications, unless the chip mill people meet our exact chip specs."
"All the chips, whether it is the chips we make on site or those that come through the gate, go directly to the hammer mill operation which pulverizes the chips into almost sawdust before going into the manufacturing process. The actual wood pellet is made so that the wood can be handled, transported to Port Arthur, put into ships and then exported to the end users in Europe."
"We will continue as before, to send the pellets by truck to Port Arthur. We have a contract with a trucking company in place to provide the trucking services," Enterkin acknowledged. "All we have to do in Urania is concentrate on making chips."
Meanwhile on the corporate and court level, Bettina Schmudd is firmly in control of the German Pellet bankruptcy. Appointed to the position of administrator by the German courts, Bettina is considered to be one of the two top female attorneys in all of Europe. Since being appointed to her current position, when the German group of companies filed for insolvency, Bettina quickly moved to obtain debtor in possession financing to restart production in Urania.
She also dismissed the former owner and founder of the German companies from participation in the future operations in the insolvent group of companies.
The former owner was placed in a position of question after certain financial transactions of money being transferred between companies under his control were revealed.
There are numerous small-time investors from Europe who placed their monies into the German companies due to their belief in the future of wood pellets in the electricity generating industry. The German Court system has set a date in mid-July for all the original investors of the German Pellet Company to meet with Bettina Schmudd to find out the fate of their investments. The opinion of most legal and financial analysts is that the best that these investors can hope for is a few pennies on the dollar; most learned legal opinions is that no monies will ever get back to these investors.
The legal situation of the original German Pellet Companies here in the USA is murky at best. It will probably take years to sort out who gets what and how much. The return of money on high yield bonds to bond holders, investors, state, and national level grants issuers is very murky. The founder of German Pellets and his fund-raising team were apparently adept at finding sources of money from many resources both in Europe and the USA.