Panama Canal Announces Third Draft Restrictions
Following previous announcements, the Panama Canal Authority announced a third round of draft restrictions on April 11 that will be imposed on vessels transiting the canal, effective May 9, 2016. The restrictions are based on the present and projected level of Gatun Lake. The maximum authorized transit draft is set at 11.59 meters (38.0 feet).
The restrictions will be waived for vessels loaded over 11.59 meters (38.0 feet) on or before April 11. Vessels loaded after April 11 shall comply with the new draft limit. Depending on the level of Gatum Lake at the time of transit, vessels may be required to trim or off-load cargo if they are over 11.59 meters (38.0) in draft. Draft restrictions will be implemented in 15-centimeter (6-inch) decrements at a time, with each restriction announced at least 4 weeks in advance.
For more information, see here.
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Designates Three New Marine Highway Projects
According to an April 8 news release, DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx has designated three new Marine Highway Projects:
- the Baton Rouge-New Orleans Shuttle project, sponsored by the Port of New Orleans (in partnership with the Port of Greater Baton Rouge and SEACOR AMH, LLC), a container-on-barge project to operate between Ports of Greater Baton Rouge and New Orleans;
- the Illinois Intrastate Shuttle project, aiming to shift about 5,500 containers in its first year of operation to reduce the congestion of north-south interstate 55 to the Mississippi River by providing soybean and grain shippers a new routing option;
- the Lake Erie Shuttle project, sponsored by the Port of Monroe to carry cargo between the ports of Monroe, MI, Cleveland, OH, and Detroit, MI.
All three projects are expected to offer new modal choices for shippers, reduce transportation costs, and provide public benefits. With DOT’s official designation, these projects are eligible for federal funding.
Wheat Inspections Rebound
For the week ending April 14, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, soybeans) for export from all major export regions reached 1.82 million metric tons (mmt), down 3 percent from the past week, unchanged from last year, and 3 percent below the 3-year average.
Despite the drop in total inspections, wheat inspections rebounded; increasing 34 percent from the past week as shipments to Latin America rose.
Soybean inspections decreased 34 percent from the previous week as shipments dropped to Asia and Latin America receded.
Corn inspections decreased 3 percent for the same period.
Mississippi Gulf grain inspections decreased 7 percent from the previous week, while Pacific Northwest (PNW) inspections decreased 18 percent from the past week. Outstanding export sales (unshipped) of grain increased slightly from the past week for corn and soybeans but decreased for wheat.
Snapshots by Sector
During the week ending April 7, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 19.2 mmt, down 11 percent from the same time last year. Net weekly wheat export sales, at .125 mmt, were up significantly from the previous week. Net corn export sales were 1.14 mmt, up 20 percent from the previous week, and net soybean export sales were .456 mmt, up 8 percent from the past week.
U.S. Class I railroads originated 18,871 grain carloads for the week ending April 9, down 13 percent from the previous week, down 21 percent from last year, and down 6 percent from the 3-year average. Average April shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $225 below tariff for the week ending April 14, up $13 from last week. There were no shuttle bids/offers this week last year. Non-shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers were $63 below tariff, down $6 from last week. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week last year.
For the week ending April 16, barge grain movements totaled 681,300 tons, 1 percent lower than last week, and down 2 percent from the same period last year. For the week ending April 16, 431 grain barges moved down river, down 2 percent from last week; 546 grain barges were unloaded in New Orleans, down 15 percent from the previous week.
For the week ending April 14, 33 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 3 percent less than the same period last year. Fifty-six vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days, 2 percent more than the same period last year.
For the week ending April 14, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain from the Gulf to Japan was $24.50 per metric ton, up 2 percent from the previous week. The cost of shipping from the PNW to Japan was $14.75 per metric ton, up 2 percent from the previous week.
During the week ending April 18, U.S. average diesel fuel prices increased 4 cents from the previous week at $2.16 per gallon, down $0.61 from the same week last year.