Stora Enso wants to respond to strong consumer demand to replace plastic in packaging and considers a new conversion project in Oulu. 750,000 tpy of new board capacities could be added to the market.
Stora Enso is considering to rebuild the second former woodfree coated paper machine at its Oulu mill in Finland to produce folding boxboard (FBB), coated unbleached kraft (CUK) and liner grades. The company said that it was starting a feasibility study and could make a final decision by the end of this year, if the feasibility study was successful. The planned capacity of the converted machine would be 750,000 tpy, capital expenditure for the project is estimated to amount to €900-1,000m during 2023-2026.
Stora Enso said that the project is line with its strategy to invest in growth to meet demand for sustainable packaging and replace plastic in packaging. It will evaluate the profitability of the possible conversion and is seeking to optimise synergies with the current production at the Oulu site, where it started production of kraftliner on the other former woodfree coated paper machine at the beginning of last year.
Cartonboard from the converted machine would serve customers in the frozen and chilled food and beverages segments as well as in non-food markets such as pharma and cosmectics. The investment would include the conversion of the former paper machine and the sheeting facility. In addition, investments would also be made in wood handling, the BCTMP plant, the biomass boiler and the effluent plant.
Stora Enso estimates that the Oulu mill's future pulp wood demand would be around one million cubic metres, which could be met by volumes which are available after the closure of the Veitsiluoto mill. Captive chemical pulp would be used for the project, Stora Enso says, reducing its net market pulp exposure by approximately 300,000 tpy. About 150-200 new employees would be needed for the project, including logistics and maintenance.
The company is expecting demand for packaging board to be strong and can rely on experience it gained from the conversion of the other former woodfree coated paper machine at the Oulu site. PM 7 produced the last reels of WFC paper in September 2020 and was then rebuilt to produce up to 450,000 tpy of brown and white-top kraftliner. The machine for the possible rebuild for cartonboard, PM 6, was also shut down in September 2020.
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