Arbor Resources Blog Updates
We published a Coranavirus update to let you know we had stood down the crews in our forests from the 4th of February.
As the Chinese New Year is now officially over there has been some increased activity on the Chinese ports and we have, for now, resumed the crews on a reduced production level (around 60%). We have been in discussions with most of the New Zealand Forestry owners right through from the 189,000ha Kaingaroa Timber forest owners, Earnslaw, Forest Enterprises, China Forestry Group and several other forest owners. At this stage they are all in a similar position to us where the immediate objective is to minimise harvesting but maintain a small amount of work to retain the harvest infrastructure. Ongoing harvest decisions are being considered and made daily.
It is still too early to determine what level the Chinese activity will reach - this will guide our decisions.
Our priority as always is to maximise returns for investors and it is a fine balancing act between protecting the crew infrastructure that we have built up over the years and maximising investor returns.
We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and if we find there is no improvement in China, and the expectation is that the situation will take a long time to rectify, we will at some point make the decision to completely stand down our crews. This is not a decision to be taken lightly as we expect some harvest crews will go out of business and once the China situation improves, we anticipate long delays in attracting harvest crews again – they just won’t be around. We have already had some crews go out of business during the previous imposed reduced production periods.
The exporters are still negotiating the February log prices but we expect the average A grade log price could be around the $100-$105 range. This is a drop from last month’s average price of $122 This negotiation is longer than usual as the banks in China have only come back to work in a reduced capacity this week. The banks are required for LCs (Letters of Credit). Affecting the price is the larger port inventories in China. Inventories are currently sitting around 6 million tonnes, a comfortable level for this time of the year is around 4.5 million tonnes. As well, the beetle damaged wood continues to supply the Chinese market from Europe.
We will update you again when we have more information.
Attached is an update from the Forest Owners Association explaining the current situation.
11th February 2020
FOA, FICA and Te Uru Rakau have been working collaboratively to monitor the situation and provide as much up to date information as we can on a very fluid situation. The summary messages below follow the briefing provided at the end of last week.
Coronavirus and the forestry sector situation as at 11 February, 2020.
Early last week we were advised that the flow of our logs into China is facing significant global disruption caused by Coronavirus. China is our main buyer of logs and is the market that sets the price for all other end users – including the New Zealand domestic market.
Last week, after discussions with the exporters and a number of forestry companies we made the decision to stand down the harvest crews. Other forest management companies have made similar decisions. For most of the crews their last day of work was Tuesday last week – with a plan to review operations today.
Over the past week we have been closely monitoring the Coronavirus situation. Businesses, ports and government departments in China remain operating on very restricted capacity. The Chinese workforce is still under movement control and in many cases cannot get to work, or back home. The government extended Chinese New Year, which is normally celebrated around this time of the year, this means log inventories on ports have continued to build. And with no one returning to work, transporting from the ports and processing hasn’t begun.
Because of the build up of logs on the wharves, price indications for February have reduced significantly with indications of A grade logs dropping from around $125 to $90 per JAS. Coupled with this is an increased supply of beetle affected spruce logs being railed from Europe to China and competing with our Radiata.
The situation remains very dynamic. Today we are continuing discussions with the exporters around log movements off the ports. All parties are unsure how long this disruption will last.
The underlying demand from China for logs remains positive – it’s a matter of working through the short term Coronavirus repercussions and the current build-up of inventories on the port.
We will send you more information as the situation develops.
Will Dickie & Roger Dickie