Collision disrupts grain exports at Brazil port
Wednesday, 15 February 2012 | 16:30
About a quarter of Brazil's shipments of soy and corn to world markets were disrupted on Tuesday, a day after a dry bulk carrier collided with and damaged a major grain terminal at Santos Port.
Late on Monday, the dry bulk carrier MV Milagro, under the Maltese flag, knocked into the water one of the four grain loaders at the Guaruja Grain Terminals (TGG) complex at Santos, Latin America's largest port, a TGG representative said on Tuesday.
Brazil, expected by the USDA to displace the United States as the world's top exporter of soybeans this year, started harvesting a 70 million-tonne soy crop and a corn crop forecast at 60 million tonnes several weeks ago. The flow of the grains through the ports is picking up and normally peaks in April.
Benchmark Chicago Board of Trade soy futures traded up slightly to $12.54 a bushel on Tuesday.
All movement of soy and corn through the TGG grains terminal at Santos has stopped. A statement by TGG said one of its loaders was "totally destroyed" and the company "was making all efforts to reestablish" movement at the terminal.
With TGG grain shipments totally offline, slightly more than half of Santos' capacity to export grains is disrupted. The TGG and Grain Export Terminal (TEG) roughly share the movement of soybeans through the port. TGG tends also to ship soy pellets, or meal, as well as corn.
TEG movement is unaffected by the accident.
"The number 4 grain loader is totally destoyed and half in the water and half on the terminal," a third party spokeswoman for TGG said. "It's still unknown if loader number 3 can function yet. It's connected to 4 by a conveyor belt and that may have been damaged."
Earlier, a spokesman for the Port Authority at Santos had said two grain loaders had been damaged at the terminal. TGG said it could only confirm damage to one loader so far.
TGG grain terminal began operations in 2007 and its main stakeholders are the local railway operator America Latina Logistica, Brazilian soybean giant Amaggi and multinational commodities processor Bunge Ltd.
In December, which is not a peak month, TGG shipped 246,860 tonnes of soy, 60,898 tonnes of meal and 117,694 tonnes of corn. TEG shipped 273,127 tonnes of soybeans during the month.
Last March, which is a peak month for the movement of grains through the port due to the harvest, TGG moved 699,668 tonnes of soybeans to TEG's 677,636 tonnes, Santos data showed.
TGG and TEG together moved 8.9 million tonnes of soybeans, 3 million tonnes of meal and 4.6 million tonnes of corn last year. Each of TGG's shiploaders has the capacity to load 1,500 tonnes an hour into ships' holds.
Representatives for Santos and TGG could not say when the terminal would be up and running again with its remaining shiploaders, nor how long it would take to replace the damaged ones.
In past cases when shiploaders had been damaged at Brazilian ports, repairs required several weeks. It remained unclear whether TGG will be able partially to move grain from other berths as loader 4 and potentially loader 3 undergo repairs or removal.
Santos is one of the main corridors through which Brazil's grain exports of soybeans and corn flow. It is also a main artery for the export of sugar and coffee but through other parts of the port that were unaffected by the accident at TGG.
Brazil also exports grains from Paranagua port, roughly 300 miles (500 km) to the south of Santos. Paranagua ships slightly less soybeans than Santos but more soymeal and substantial amounts of soy oil and corn.
Brazil also ships soybeans from Rio Grande, Salvador and Amazon ports, but at smaller volumes than Santos and Paranagua.
The MV Milagro is anchored off port, with damage to its bridge and lower deck.