Grain Inspections Unchanged from Past Week
For the week ending April 21, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, soybeans) for export from all major export regions reached 1.84 million metric tons (mmt), unchanged from the past week, down 17 percent from last year, and equal to the 3-year average.
Inspections of corn and soybeans increased 3 and 4 percent from the previous week, while wheat inspections decreased 11 percent.
Mississippi Gulf grain inspections increased 17 percent from the past week, as barge movements remained strong. Pacific Northwest (PNW) inspections decreased 4 percent. Outstanding export sales (unshipped) of grain were down for corn, wheat, and soybeans.
First Vessel to Transit the Expanded Panama Canal Will be Picked by Drawing
On Friday, April 29, the Panama Canal Authority will hold a draw to select the first vessel to transit the Expanded Canal on the June 26 inauguration day. The winner will be picked from the top 15 customers of the Canal based on customers’ ranking used for booking as of April 2016.
Those interested must indicate the Neopanamax vessel’s name, type, and dimensions, and each vessel must comply with the Panama Canal’s requirements. The vessel must not exceed a maximum beam of 49 meters, overall length of 366 meters, and a maximum draft of 12.5 meters. A runner-up will also be selected in case the winner informs the Canal Authority as of May 10 its inability to deploy an approved vessel for the inauguration.
The winner will be responsible for all costs associated with the transit in accordance with Panama Canal published tariffs. Regular commercial transits through the Expanded Canal will resume on June 27. For more information, see here.
Panama Canal Lock Maintenance Scheduled, Reduces Transit Capacity
The West Lane of the Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal will be closed for maintenance and repair work May 4-6, 2016, for 2.5 days. The estimated transit capacity of the Canal due to the maintenance work is 22-24 vessels per day, rather than the normal transit capacity of 35-37 vessels, depending on vessel mix and other factors. At this time, no major delays are anticipated.
Just Over 2 Months Remain before New SOLAS Requirements are Implemented
The International Maritime Organization’s amendment to its Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations which requires shippers to provide a verified gross mass of each container before being loaded onto a vessel is rapidly approaching. Despite two recent attempts by the agricultural community to seek help from Congress, the program is still scheduled for implementation on July 1. Shippers insist these new regulations could impede trade and cause further congestion at U.S. ports.
Snapshots by Sector
During the week ending April 14, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 19 mmt, down 10 percent from the same time last year. Net weekly wheat export sales, at .295 mmt, were up noticeably from the previous week. Net corn export sales were 1.2 mmt, up 9 percent from the previous week, and net soybean export sales were .408 mmt, up 7 percent from the past week.
U.S. Class I railroads originated 20,784 grain carloads for the week ending April 16, up 10 percent from the previous week, up 14 percent from last year, and up 6 percent from the 3-year average.
Average May shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $189 below tariff for the week ending April 21, up $6 from last week, and $111 higher than last year. Non-shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers were $50 below tariff, up $50 from last week, and $88 higher than last year.
For the week ending April 23, barge grain movements totaled 796,318 tons, 17 percent higher than last week, and up 16 percent from the same period last year.
For the week ending April 23, 512 grain barges moved down river, up 19 percent from last week; 688 grain barges were unloaded in New Orleans, up 26 percent from the previous week.
For the week ending April 21, 37 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 27 percent more than the same period last year. Fifty-six vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days, 3 percent less than the same period last year.
For the week ending April 21, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain from the Gulf to Japan was $25.00 per metric ton, up 2 percent from the previous week. The cost of shipping from the PNW to Japan was $15.00 per metric ton, up 2 percent from the previous week.
During the week ending April 25, U.S. average diesel fuel prices increased 4 cents from the previous week at $2.20 per gallon, down $0.62 from the same week last year.