Moving Grain: Port of Virginia To Deepen, Expand Shipping Channels

Norfolk International Terminals - Port of Virginia. Photo: formulanone, Wikimedia, Creative Commons

Port of Virginia Solidifies Plans To Deepen and Expand Shipping Channels

On October 9, the Port of Virginia contracted with an international dredging firm to begin the initial phase of its deepening project in January 2020. The work includes dredging the shipping channels to 55 feet—with deeper ocean approaches—and widening the channel to more than 1,400 feet in specific areas. When dredging is complete in 2024, the commercial channels serving the Norfolk Harbor will be able to simultaneously accommodate two ultra-large container vessels.

This project will position the port with the deepest shipping channel on the East Coast. The Port of Norfolk is the third largest port for U.S. containerized grain exports. For more information, see the Port of Virginia’s website.

California Plans Public Hearing on Control Measure for Oceangoing Vessels

On December 5, 2019, the California Air Resources Board will conduct a public hearing on a proposed regulation aimed at reducing air pollution at California ports and marine terminals. Implementing several changes to the existing At-Berth regulation, the proposed regulation would further reduce emissions generated from oceangoing vessels at berth. The new regulation would also help carriers meet compliance challenges stemming from operational difficulties that could not be foreseen when the existing regulation was written.

Furthermore, the proposed regulation would expand the scope of the existing regulation by increasing the number of controlled visits from the currently regulated vessel categories and by including new vessel categories (such as vehicle carriers and tanker vessels), new ports, and independent marine terminals. Written comments not physically submitted at the hearing must be submitted by December 2, 2019.

Grain Inspections Rebound; Soybeans Highest Since February

For the week ending October 17, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. export regions reached 2.5 million metric tons (mmt). Inspections were up 24 percent from the previous week, down 9 percent from last year, and 18 percent below the 3-year average. Total inspections of wheat, corn, and soybeans increased by 14 percent, 11 percent, and 36 percent, respectively, from the past week.

Soybean inspections were the highest they had been since late February. Although inspections of soybeans destined to Asia increased notably, inspections destined to China were still below average. Pacific Northwest (PNW) inspections increased 52 percent from the previous week while Mississippi Gulf grain inspections increased 16 percent.

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales

For the week ending October 10, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 25.1 mmt. This represents a 27-percent decrease in outstanding sales, compared to the same time last year. Net corn export sales reached .369 mmt, down 29 percent from the past week. Net soybean export sales were 1.60 mmt, down 20 percent from the previous week. Net weekly wheat export sales reached .395 mmt, down 24 percent from the from the previous week.

Grain News on AgFax


Rail

U.S. Class I railroads originated 20,911 grain carloads during the week ending October 12. This is a 6-percent increase from the previous week, 6 percent less than last year, and 12 percent lower than the 3-year average.

Average November shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers (per car) were $94 above tariff for the week ending October 17. This is $138 more than last week and $13 more than this week last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week.

Barge

For the week ending October 19, barge grain movements totaled 310,061 tons. This is a 40-percent decrease from the previous week and 9 percent more than the same period last year.

For the week ending October 19, 196 grain barges moved down river. This is 131 fewer barges than the previous week. There were 804 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 9 percent more than the previous week.

Ocean

For the week ending October 17, 34 oceangoing grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf—11 percent fewer than the same period last year. Fifty-three vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days (starting October 18). This is 15 percent fewer than the same period last year.

As of October 17, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $51.50. This is unchanged from the previous week. The rate from PNW to Japan was $28.50 per mt, unchanged from the previous week.

Fuel

For the week ending October 21, the U.S. average diesel fuel price decreased 0.1 cents from the previous week to $3.050 per gallon. This price is 33 cents less than the same week last year.

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