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Thursday, July 18, 2013    

St. Joe Co. swings another deal that could spur business for AN Railway, Florida port


The St. Joe Co. late last month announced it signed a letter of intent with Enova Energy Group that could spur economic development opportunities in northwest Florida, including the potential to bolster business for AN Railway and make the Port of Port St. Joe operational.

Enova Energy has expressed an interest in transporting a minimum of 1 million metric tons per year of wood pellets via the AN Railway, which would move the pellets to the Port of Port St. Joe for export to overseas markets, St. Joe Co. officials said in a press release. Enova Energy also expressed an interest in using or developing port site facilities, provided the port is capable of accepting vessels of adequate size for the shipment of commercial wood pellets, they said.

Enova Energy aims to develop and operate wood pellet facilities throughout the Southeast and currently is developing three facilities that might begin production in fourth-quarter 2014, St. Joe Co. officials said.

The port is well positioned for bulk cargo shipments, offering access to rail, the U.S. Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, and state and U.S. highways, they said. However, the port's navigational channel is federally authorized to a maximum of 37 feet and requires dredging to reach a depth necessary to commence shipping activities. The letter of intent is contingent upon the port receiving funding to complete maintenance dredging of the channel, St. Joe Co. officials said.

"The last major hurdle to an operational port and new jobs is the necessary dredging improvement to the shipping channel," said St. Joe Co. Chief Executive Officer Park Brady. "Prospective rail improvements to the AN Railway [also] are critical to open doors for economic development for the Port of Port St. Joe and surrounding areas."

In May, St. Joe Co. signed a letter of intent with Green Circle Bio Energy Inc., which expressed an interest in leasing a site from St. Joe along the AN Railway to develop a wood pellet production facility. Wood pellets produced at the new facility would be transported via the railroad or truck to the port for overseas shipments.

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