Flooding Cripples Grain Barge Shipments in U.S. Midwest
Grain barge shipping came to a near standstill in parts of the U.S. Midwest on Thursday as recent heavy rain and melting snow swelled rivers, halted barge loading and sidelined the towboats that haul farm belt crops to Gulf Coast export terminals. The flooded waterways sent cash premiums for corn barges delivered to Gulf Coast terminals soaring. Rates hit peaks on Thursday that have not been seen in 18 months, as exporters scrambled to secure enough grain to top off vessels bound for overseas markets, traders said.
Baltic Exchange Mulls New Freight Indexes for Grains, LNG
The Baltic Exchange is looking into launching freight indexes for grains and liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the London-run business targets new markets after its acquisition by Singapore Exchange last year, the Baltic's chief executive said. Founded in 1744 as a forum for chartering vessels, the Baltic Exchange now produces benchmark indexes for global shipping rates and owns a trading platform for the multi-billion dollar freight derivatives market. SGX's ownership of the Baltic has enabled the exchange to set its sights on developing new areas…
Argentine Grains Port Workers Return after Brief Strike
A one-day strike at the Rosario grains export hub in Argentina ended on Friday after the government compelled union and company officials to enter into wage negotiations for 15 days, a union leader said. The strike began at midnight local time and ended around noon after the union agreed to the government mandate for a "reconciliation" period to settle the dispute, said Edgardo Quiroga, an official with the CGT union's San Lorenzo branch. "Operations are back to normal," he said. Rosario handles about 80 percent of Argentina's grains exports. San Lorenzo covers the northern districts of the Rosario hub where multinational companies like Bunge Ltd, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus Commodities BV have crushing plants and ports.
Ship Carrying Brazilian Corn Heads to US
A ship carrying corn was scheduled to leave Brazil for the United States on Monday, three shipping agents said, as a strong dollar and plentiful South American supply makes importing corn attractive to U.S. buyers. The ship owned by Bunge Ltd, carrying 54,000 tonnes of corn, was scheduled to depart Itacoatiara Port on the Amazon river, data from Williams Shipping agents and Brazil-based Cargonave showed. A third source, who declined to be named, said the cargo was bound for the port of Wilmington, in North Carolina. Bunge did not respond to a request for comment. The sale reflects the increasing competitiveness of grains from Brazil, which has drastically increased output over the past decade and more recently has improved shipping logistics. Brazil, the world's No.
Brazil Exports Soy from New Northeast Terminal
Two soybean cargoes have recently departed from a new terminal in northeast Brazil operated by VLI and local trader Multigrain, the latest option in the region as exporters look for alternatives to Brazil's overcrowded southern ports. A third ship carrying 27,800 tonnes of soy contracted by Multigrain is anchored in the Barra dos Coqueiros terminal in Sergipe state, according to shipping agencies and Thomson Reuters data. The first known soy terminal in Sergipe will export just 150,000 tonnes of soy per year, but it is part of a broader trend to increase capacity and cut costs for exporters in Brazil by developing new shipping routes closer to the Panama Canal. International giants like Glencore, Louis Dreyfus, Bunge Ltd.
Argentine Grain Worker Union in Wage Talks
Port workers who run Argentina's Rosario grains hub met on Monday with export companies for wage talks aimed at avoiding an open-ended strike that labor leaders had announced for Tuesday, a union official said. A strike at Rosario would slow soy and corn exports in the middle of Argentina's main harvesting and shipping season. Talks are complicated by Argentina's inflation rate, estimated by private economists at more than 25 percent. "We are at the ministry negotiating. Everything depends on that," Alberto Maldonado, an official with the San Lorenzo chapter of the CGT labor federation. The strike had been set to start at midnight (0300 GMT) on Tuesday, the CGT said over the weekend.
Port Workers to Strike on Tuesday at Argentine Grains Hub
Port workers in Argentina's Rosario grains export hub will kick off a strike on Tuesday to demand salary improvements and union rights, the local port chamber said on Saturday. The strike, which is set to start at midnight local time (0300 GMT) on Tuesday "will take place in such a manner as to interrupt all activities related to the agriculture exporting companies in the jurisdiction," said the San Lorenzo branch of the CGT labor federation. San Lorenzo covers the northern districts of the Rosario hub where multinational companies such as Bunge Ltd, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus Commodities BV have crushing plants and ports. The CGT counts quality control inspectors and dock workers among its members in Rosario.
G3 to Study Building Grain Terminal at Port Metro Vancouver
G3 Global Holdings said on Tuesday that it would study the feasibility of building a grain terminal at Port Metro Vancouver. Winnipeg-based G3, which agreed in April to buy a controlling stake in grain handler CWB, said it would consider building the terminal at Lynnterm West Gate, on the North Shore of Canada's busiest port. Western Stevedoring, which holds the lease for the site, is a partner in the study. G3 is a limited partnership between U.S.-based oilseed processor Bunge Ltd and Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co (SALIC). "The planned combination of CWB and Bunge's Canadian grain assets will provide a highly competitive eastern footprint," said G3 Chief Executive Karl Gerrand in a statement. It would be the first new grain terminal at the port since 1968.
Wage Row Between Argentine Crushers, Companies Reaches Crunch Point
Pressure grew on Friday for a resolution to wage talks between exporters and striking crushers in Argentina's Rosario grains hub, with another powerful union threatening to launch its own industrial action on Monday that would paralyze exports. The strike by the Soyoil Workers Federation, which represents about 20 percent of crushing workers in the world's No. 1 soyoil and soymeal exporter, began more than three weeks ago at the peak of an expected record harvest. "On Monday there's no turning back," union head Daniel Yofra said by telephone. Yofra said he remained optimistic a deal would be struck, but there were no indications of any impending agreement.
Fire Still Restricts Trucks from Largest Brazilian Port
A fire at a fuel-storage facility at the Port of Santos, the largest port in Brazil, burned for a sixth day on Tuesday, restricting access to trucks delivering grains and other goods. Firefighters on Monday managed to extinguish the flames at a facility run by Ultracargo, a unit of Brazilian chemical and fuel-distribution company Grupo Ultra, only to see gasoline in one of the tanks reignite. By Tuesday morning two of the six fuel tanks at the facility were on fire, Ultracargo said in a statement. Police and highway operators have blocked much of the truck access to the port, and the harbor master has banned ship movements at terminals along the busy Alemoa docks. As a result, ships cannot restock bunker-fuel supplies.
Cargill to Build Grain Terminal in West Memphis
U.S. agribusiness Cargill Inc said it will build a grain handling facility in West Memphis, Arkansas, to purchase corn, sorghum, soybeans and wheat that the company could ship down the Mississippi River to U.S. Gulf Coast export terminals. Minneapolis-based Cargill, one of the world's largest private companies, said on Thursday it will invest $45 million in the terminal in West Memphis, located on the western bank of the Mississippi. The river is the main shipping route to the Gulf, where about 60 percent of all U.S. corn, soybeans and wheat exports exit the country. When completed, the elevator will be capable of loading up to eight barges daily and of holding up to five barges, Cargill said in a release that did not provide a timeline for the project.
Barge Shipments of Brazil Soy Bound for US Midwest Crushers
Deep discounts for Brazilian soybeans are creating an unexpected new market with U.S. processors and animal producers far upstream in the heart of the Midwest farm belt where the beans will be shipped on barges. While light soybean imports by U.S. users along the Gulf and East Coast are not uncommon, it has been nearly two decades since South American supplies were unloaded at the Louisiana Gulf and towed up the Mississippi River to inland processors. The current trend reverses the usual flow of barge traffic and sees ports around New Orleans which usually load ocean-going ships with beans switching to unloading arrivals onto barges.
Poor Soy Crushing Margins in China to Improve
Poor soy crushing margins in China that have led the country to default on soy purchases are short term and should improve in two to three months, Bunge Ltd's chief executive officer said. CEO Soren Schroder was in Brazil for the inauguration on Friday of Bunge's terminal in Barcarena in Para state on Brazil's northern coast, which cost 700 million reais ($314 million) to build and has a capacity of 4 million tonnes. "Margins in China are bad for everyone," Schroder said at a dinner late on Thursday. But "it's a short-term problem," he added.
Cargill Earnings Hit by Commodity Market Disruptions
Cargill Inc said on Tuesday its quarterly earnings fell 28 percent, making it one of the largest companies yet to demonstrate how big commodity market disruptions this year have hurt its bottom line. Minneapolis-based Cargill, a top global commodities trader, was hit by a triple-whammy of unexpected events, including a surge in energy prices in January, rail backlogs, and the rejection of U.S. corn shipments by China. The problems are likely to have also hit Cargill peers such as Archer Daniels Midland Co and Bunge Ltd, which are due to report financial results in the coming weeks. The coldest winter in 30 years catapulted regional U.S. natural gas prices to record highs, while power markets gyrated as producers struggled to keep supplies flowing to consumers.
Quintana Buys 17 Ships for $735m
Quintana Maritime Ltd. said Friday it is buying 17 ships from a private Greek ship owner for about $735 million. Quintana is financing the purchase with loans and $191 million in cash proceeds from a private placement of roughly 2 million shares that closed Thursday. The fleet, purchased from Metrobulk, includes three Panamaxes and 14 Kamsarmax bulkers. The company said the purchase will boost cash flow per share in 2007 when all the ships have been delivered. The ships are on a long-term charter with Bunge SA, a unit of Bunge Ltd., the company said. Shares of Greece-based Quintana rose 10 cents to $8.15 in morning trading on the Nasdaq. Source: AP
Quintana Buys 17 Ships for $735m
Cargo shipping company Quintana Maritime Ltd. said it is buying 17 ships from a private Greek shipowner for about $735 million, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle. The fleet, purchased from Metrobulk, includes three Panamaxes and 14 Kamsarmax bulkers. The ships are on a long-term charter with Bunge SA, a unit of Bunge Ltd., the company said.
Mississippi River Reopens to Barges after Gustav
The entire Mississippi River, the most important commercial waterway, has reopened to barge traffic after being closed near due to Hurricane Gustav, the Coast Guard said. More than 300 miles of the commercial waterway, stretching from to the , was closed following the landfall of the Category 2 hurricane on Monday. Reports said major grain companies such as Cargill Inc, Archer Daniels Midland Co and Bunge Ltd are still awaiting electricity to be restored to their grain export terminals on the lower Mississippi River in .
Chinese Soy Project in Brazil: Just an Empty Field
No signs identify a barren field in northeastern Brazil that was meant to be the center of one of China's most ambitious agricultural forays into South America. In 2011, Chongqing Grain Group Corp announced plans to build a soy crushing plant, railways and a giant inland storage and transportation hub to export goods back to China. The total price tag: $2 billion. Yet today, the company has only managed to bulldoze a 100-hectare area on which the crushing plant might one day stand. Even that project is on hold, though, and shrubs are starting to grow back on the cleared terrain. The stalled plans are an example of the difficulties facing once-promising Chinese investments here.