Optimised Engineered Lumber (OEL), timber for the future?
The New Zealand Farm Forestry Association, along with other stakeholders in the NZ forest industry, have partnered with central government to investigate testing young small diameter Douglas fir and Eucalyptus nitens in the manufacture of OEL. Wood from younger trees usually results in lower strength products, but this approach uses a lamination process to produce a high stiffness structural product with high dimensional stability.
OEL is made from thin strips of wood that are finger-jointed and laminated together. By laminating wood the stiffness and strength is dramatically improved and the product has very consistent properties, allowing the use of low quality and small diameter logs that would otherwise yield very little value.
The OEL technology is patented by Wood Engineering Technology Ltd and the first modular plant is being constructed near Gisborne to process lower quality radiata pine logs.
Photo: OEL made from D.fir
NZ log prices staying up
Buoyant horticulture and viticulture industries have pushed up the price of roundwood logs to a new record. The average price for roundwood logs rose to $90 a tonne in February, up $5 from January's average price and at the highest level since 2002. Demand for poles has been especially strong, for the likes of foundations and retaining walls.
New Zealand local councils approved consents for 30,000 new dwellings last year, up 10 percent from the previous year, as record net migration and low interest rates spur demand for additional housing. This is helping hold up domestic log prices.
Export prices for New Zealand logs lifted for every grade based on a monthly log price survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers carried out by AgriHQ.
The national average wharf gate price for New Zealand unpruned A-grade logs advanced to $128 a tonne, the highest level since AgriHQ records began in late 2008, while prices for various K-grades haven't been this high since the early-mid 1990s. The $166 a tonne recorded for export pruned logs was firmer than any of the previous six months.
Shipping rates to New Zealand's key log export destinations slipped. The rate to China declined 1 percent, while South Korea and India both dropped 3 percent.
The latest data showed New Zealand log exports increased 9 percent to 15.9 million cubic metres last year compared with the year earlier. China took 69 percent of the country's logs while South Korea took 17 percent.
With the $NZ plateauing at around the $US0.72-$US0.73 export log prices should be fairly stable over the next few months.
An end to bent and twisted decking timber?
Wood manufacturer Kebony has announced the North American launch of a clear-grain decking and cladding. Kebony Clear is made from Radiata pine and was developed for outdoor installations that require a clear, premium-looking finish.
The timber is treated with a bio-based liquid that provides outstanding durability and dimensional stability. The process results in wood cell walls that are about 50 percent thicker and provide a hardness that rivals the best tropical hardwoods. The company's headquarters are based in Oslo, Norway, with its production facility in Skien, South of Oslo.
Although not stated on the Company website I suspect the source of the timber could be from our rivals in Chile.
NZU price recovers
The latest sales of NZU's are at $18.05/NZU, up from last month's price of $17.00. Sentiment is for relatively stable prices going forward with May 2017 futures fixed at $18.25. With prices again over $18.00/tonne we can expect to see more trading which has been lack lustre over the past few months.
NZ carbon emitters on way to paying full costs
Emitters are now on their way to paying the full cost of their carbon emissions. The three-year phase out of the one-for-two emissions trading scheme subsidy has commenced with
the initial 50 per cent unit cost increased to 67 per cent from 1 January 2017, and will rise to 83 per cent from 1 January 2018. All sectors in the ETS will pay the full market price from 1 January 2019.