As you would expect, the North American OSB industry is suffering badly as the US housing market stalls and this has had a knock-on effect on the European producers in the second half of 2007 – a year which started with such promise.
Expansion plans in the US and Canadian OSB industry are mostly, though not entirely, being put on hold or cancelled and mills are being closed or production suspended, while in Europe some major mills are taking extra downtime to try and match supply with demand. The producers will all be hoping for some upturn when the better weather comes in the spring.
On a brighter note, APA-The Engineered Wood Association, is making upbeat forecasts for OSB in the years ahead (see p50).
South America, on the other hand, is showing considerable activity in the OSB sector now, with takeovers and mergers – and new mills going up. The producers are also finding markets outside their traditionally strong customer base in the US (see OSB, pp14-25 for our full survey of the world’s producers and markets).
In fact, South America is the hot topic in this issue of WBPI as in January, as we went to press, Sonae announced that Chile’s Masisa had bought Brascan’s shareholding in Tafibras, in which Sonae has shares (news, p12).
I have a feeling that this may be just the beginning of a round of consolidation among panel makers in various parts of the world in 2008 – and maybe among machinery makers as well. In the last issue of 2007, we reported that Siempelkamp had acquired the press business of Metso Panelboard and in this issue we find that Dieffenbacher has purchased Metso’s forming, drying, sifting and handling businesses (news p5). That leaves Metso with only its refining activities. It also left us with only two suppliers of continuous presses. Or did it?
Shanghai Wood Based Panel Machinery Co Ltd (SWPM for short) has started up its first continuous press at its owner, Kronospan’s, mill in Slovakia. That is a development that I am sure will be watched with great interest by the global industry.
With the annual round of exhibitions and conferences kicking off, I look forward to seeing you at 2008’s events around the world.