Panama Canal Lock Maintenance Tentatively Scheduled, Reducing Transit Capacity
Maintenance and repair work are scheduled for the center wall of the Gatun Panamax Locks on the Panama Canal from August 26 to September 6, 2019. In addition, the East and West Lanes of the Gatun Locks are scheduled for maintenance and repair work for 12 hours daily on September 5 and 6.
Due to the maintenance work, the estimated transit capacity of the Canal is 27–29 vessels per day, rather than the normal transit capacity of 32–34 vessels, depending on vessel mix and other factors. At this time, no major delays are anticipated despite the reduction in transit capacity.
Grain Inspections Continue to Fall but Corn Rebounds
For the week ending August 22, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions reached 2.16 million metric tons (mmt). This amount is 7 percent less than the previous week, down 22 percent from last year, and 15 percent below the 3-year average.
The drop in total inspections was caused mainly by lower wheat and soybean inspections. Corn inspections, however, rebounded from the previous week, increasing 25 percent. Week-to-week inspections of corn for export increased to Latin America and Asia, with Latin America accounting for 68 percent of all corn inspected.
Pacific Northwest (PNW) grain inspections increased 11 percent from the previous week, but Mississippi Gulf grain inspections decreased 17 percent.
Port of Virginia Adjusting Vessel Schedules to Improve Container Flow
On July 24, the Port of Virginia completed a two-year renovation and expansion project at the Virginia International Gateway (VIG). The port nearly doubled overall container stack capacity, power plugs for refrigerated cargo, and on-dock rail capacity as well as added four ship-to-shore cranes.
With construction complete, the port is adjusting vessel terminal calls to better align containers with the appropriate rail service. The port aims to move 40 percent of its container throughput via on-dock rail by 2022, more than any other East Coast port. Nearly 16 percent of U.S. containerized grain exports move through the Port of Virginia.
Snapshots by Sector
For the week ending August 15, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 11.6 million metric tons (mmt). This indicates an 18 percent decrease in outstanding sales, compared to the same time last year. Net corn export sales reached .119 mmt, up 113 percent from the previous week. Net soybean export sales were .026 mmt, up significantly from the past week. Net weekly wheat export sales reached .595 mmt, up 35 percent from the previous week.
Grain News on AgFax
U.S. Class I railroads originated 19,840 grain carloads during the week ending August 17. This is a 7 percent decrease from the previous week, 15 percent less than last year, and 10 percent lower than the 3-year average.
Average September shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $131 below tariff for the week ending August 22. This is $19 more than last week and $69 lower than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.
For the week ending August 24, barge grain movements totaled 890,199 tons. This is a 63 percent increase from the previous week and 1 percent more than the same period last year.
For the week ending August 24, 564 grain barges moved down river. This is 216 more barges than the previous week. There were 599 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 12 percent less than the previous week.
For the week ending August 22, 31 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf. This is 9 percent fewer than the same period last year. Forty-one vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days. This is 18 percent fewer than the same period last year.
As of August 22, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $51.00. This is 1 percent more than the previous week. The rate from the PNW to Japan was $28.50 per mt, 3 percent more than the previous week.
For the week ending August 26, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 1.1 cents from the previous week to $2.983 per gallon. This price is 24.3 cents less than the same week last year.