Leading global commodity pricing agency Argus has launched the first seaborne palm kernel shells (PKS) price assessment to better serve the rapidly growing market for export and import trade in east Asia. 

The price is the basis for the Argus fob Indonesia PKS index in the weekly Argus Biomass Markets report. Trade in palm kernel shells (PKS) is gaining momentum as countries in Asia-Pacific set increasingly strict renewable energy standards for power plants.

Key buyer Japan’s imports are expected to double to over 1.5mn t by next year and to reach at least 20mn t by 2030, supported by the start-up of new dedicated biomass-fired power plants. Japanese, South Korean, Singapore and Thai buyers have been using this waste product from the palm oil processing industry as a source of cleaner-burning biomass fuel for power generation.

Indonesia is the world’s largest producer and exporter of PKS, followed by Malaysia. Indonesia exported over 1.1mn t of PKS last year, and supplied more than half of Japan’s imports and most of the rest of the region’s demand.

The new Argus index is a reliable price reference for PKS cargoes exported from Indonesia, where the palm oil industry continues to expand, and has been requested by producers and other market participants. It will be of use to buyers and sellers throughout northeast and southeast Asia. Canadian and US suppliers of wood pellet biomass will also find it useful to watch price competition from PKS as they increase their exports to Japan.

The index averages Argus’ assessments of the price of PKS for export from Indonesia, creating a single reference price for use in trading across the region. Prices for cargoes loading 90 days ahead are assessed and published each week, complementing Argus’ existing wood pellet price assessments in Asia-Pacific.

Argus Media chairman and chief executive Adrian Binks said: “Argus is pleased to be the first global price reporting agency to publish an Indonesian price reference for palm kernel shells, and to bring transparency to the growing market.”

The weekly Argus Biomass Markets report also includes price assessments for delivered European wood pellets and wood chips as well as fob Canadian and fob US wood pellets. The report provides global biomass participants in the seaborne markets with the critical insights, prices and statistics needed to stay ahead of market developments.